Thursday, January 20, 2005

Tough Minded Accountability

"Mr. McNamar, you're sooo mean." I've heard it before and am positive I will hear it many more times in the course of my career. And at first, it was difficult to swallow. I took it personally because they directed their frustration directly at me. The reality was that they didn't receive the grade they wanted because their essay lacked direction or used grammar worse than a fifth grader, and it is my fault.
If we as teachers do not have a high standard for all of our students, if we give in to the whining and parental reproaches, aren't we doing the student and our profession a disservice? Every time a teacher bends a policy, or changes a grade, don't we lose face? At some point doesn't all of that niceness catch up to us?
They come from a disadvantaged home, so we lower our standards. Isn't that a form of discrimination? They have ADD, so we aren't as tough in discipline. Haven't we lowered the bar?
I believe that students notice these things. That when they sit in the lunch room and rate us, as we know they do, they are aware of whether or not we will give into them. The question is, are we willing to sacrifice our status as the "cool" teacher to hold every student accountable? Rich Kid and Poor Kid? AP Kid and SPED Kid?
Maybe I'm just a "stupid lil' dreamer," but I think that we can be liked by our students and respected by them at the same time. But if I had to choose, I'd take respected every time so long as they are learning.


At 2:37 PM , Blogger Lectrice said...

YOu're absolutely right, but one of the hard things about being the teacher who does not lower his standards for a difficult or deprived student is that these are things they will only ever realise in hindsight. At the time, they will test and test and test your boundaries, simply because they are firmer than any others in their lives at that time.


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