When I got into this teaching profession, I had stars in my eyes. I thought that I could make everyone excited about learning. But then Jimmy walked into my class – angry and sad. “Is this special to you?” he asked, picking up the coffee cup handmade by a student. He smiled at me and turned away. “Oops, I dropped it,” he said without a trace of regret as it hit the ground. Or Betsy, the girl who flinched anytime anyone got too close. Andy, the boy who curled up in a fetal position under his desk and wouldn’t come out. Jasmine, who pulled her hood up and put her head down and didn’t talk to anyone. These were my kids and in a sense they are all our kids.
Reaching all students is not easy. Kids come to us with hurts and failures and attitudes. But teachers have power, incredible power to make a difference. It takes patience and persistence. Over the years it’s become my mission to reach every student and to preach this message in every professional development workshop I offer. Kids can when we believe they can. It’s almost that simple.
When we take the time to get to know the people sitting in front of us (yes, even when there are 150 of them across the day), when we truly believe that the human connection is the most important thing we teach, amazing things can happen. All our kids are all our kids, and all kids can learn at high levels when we believe it’s our job to teach people, not programs.