Thursday, June 05, 2008

I keep battling...

This schoolyear feels like a lengthy at bat. The kids keep chucking nasty curveballs, changeups, and fastballs, but I keep fouling them off. They want to strike me out, turn me into the teacher who allows mediocrity and lets them dictate the day. I want to get a hit, maybe drive in a run or two.
I can't say I really understand why I continue to battle. For the fourth day in a row, the first word I heard upon entering the building: f---. In my smallest class, a group of 7, two are on out of school suspension, one is in school suspended, and one can't function on a daily basis because, as he says, "What's the point, mister? I have to repeat next year."
And yet, despite being on the look out for something new for next year, I found myself in a conversation with a student about who are the influencers in the school.
My latest save the school idea invovles identifying the student influencers. If we know who they are, we can focus our attention on them. I want to bring those students together--students who have long lists of misbehavior. I want to influence those students to become leaders of change, to take ownership at the school. I wonder how different those students would behave if they were given the chance to voice their ideas freely and appropriately.


At 6:42 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is the sound of two hands clapping.

At 8:19 PM , Blogger Jim Connolly said...

We have a program here in the OC called Peer Assistance Leaders, or PALS, 'cause educators love the acronyms. In its best incarnations, the program does exactly what you propose: identify the leaders among the student population and "turn them away from the dark side," giving them a voice in how the school is run.
It's tough for teachers and administrators to relinquish control, but often we don't realize that giving up a little control returns a much greater degree of influence over how things go.
Good luck, and keep on battling!

At 2:00 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great idea. In our area, we had a program called Future Leaders, which took students outside of the classroom and into nature while using team building and trust games to help them learn to work together, respect each other, and voice their opinions/feelings in a positive manner.


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