February 25 – i got schooled again

216/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me. Today’s person I met just very recently but I had to include them in on this list as the comment they made changed my entire teaching philosophy and the way I look at things going forward. Earlier in these posts, I talked about the white boys in my classes and in the weeks since, one of them made a comment to me in response to my trying to motivate him to spend more time on and add more details to the assignment he was working on in class. I was thinking of a number of ways to motivate him when he simply said – “I’m okay with this.” I was taken aback. I have never been told that. I queried and he said that he took the time to do it in class – which he probably wouldn’t have done if it was for homework and he was satisfied with what he did and willing to accept the mark he got. I was floored and although I said he could do better, he said he knew that but this was good enough for him. I stood there dumbfounded not because he didn’t take my advice but because he knew what he was doing and he was satisfied. He understood the assignment, did it to the point where he was okay with his work and submitted it. At that moment, I realized that I was imposing my standards on him. There is one thing to motivate but another to have standards that don’t necessarily fit every student. I was trying to raise the bar for him but he was comfortable in grabbing it where it was and bringing it down to where he wanted and leaving it at that. Yes, one could argue that I should be pushing him and trying to help him succeed but he’s not failing. He is in grade 12 and he knows what he is doing.  Plus, unwarranted antagonism because of some ideal I have is not necessary. And before you start criticizing my teaching strategy – and don’t even consider it if you are a non-teacher 😉 – I know what I am doing. There are other important things to work on and grades are definitely not the be all and end all and I needed to be reminded of that but I also needed to be made aware of the fact that students take ownership for their own learning and they are entitled to make those decisions at the grade levels I teach. Thank you “S” for bringing a much needed awareness to my teaching.

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