Do You See What I See?
My favorite author, Frederick Buechner, advises us to listen to our lives. This post is in response to what I've been hearing. In my last post, I wrote about our responsibility to our students beyond the nine months of classroom time--we have a responsibility to them, and society, for life.
Gloria Ladson-Billings in the essay "Yes, But How do We do It?," writes:
Culturally relevant teachers envision their students as being filled with possibilities. They imagine that somewhere in the classroom is the nexe Nobel laureate (a Toni Morrison), the next neurosurgeon (a Benjamin Carson), or the next pioneer for social justice (a Fannie Lou Hamer).
When I read this excerpt, I underlined it as any good active reader would do. Then this morning while at church, one of the lay preachers reminded us that an authentic Christian community doesn't simply see people for what they currently are, but instead has vision to see what they can become. Two days, one message.
In this blog, I have often referred to my students as what they are: minorities, Hispanics, low S.E.S., and perhaps a few emotionally charged names. It isn't that I don't see the potential in my students. I am reminded of the young lady I taught in Seattle who e-mailed me not too long ago. In my response I reminded her, "I still believe in you," a common refrain during that particular school year.
But this message, from two very different sources, caused me to evaluate how I approach my students. Will I continue to see them as low SES minorities, or will I see them as the first Hispanic president, the next Sandra Cisneros or Pedro Noguera?
If I fail to honestly and completely make this adjustment, I can't imagine a truly successful career at this school.