EDITORIAL ADVISORY BOARD: Let's try to assume less about our students

2013-02-03T00:00:00Z EDITORIAL ADVISORY BOARD: Let's try to assume less about our studentsBy Dwayne Evans nwitimes.com
February 03, 2013 12:00 am  • 

New year, new beginnings, new resolutions, promises fulfilled and promises failed. 

At the beginning of each year, we search for personal resolutions and opportunities to improve on ourselves based on what we did or did not do the previous year.

We look critically at what we think we have done well and what we think we can do better, or we just make pledges and promises to do better for the sake of doing better.

Although some of these promises often go unfulfilled, it gives us hope, promise and vision for what the next year has to offer. Unfortunately, at times, when the dust settles and the euphoric belief of a new year goes away, we find ourselves faced with the same schedules we faced only weeks before and some of the same unfulfilled promises.

Although we might not at times fulfill our resolution, at the same time we should look into our own past and make some sense of who we are as human beings and who we are as educators. With that in mind, I too looked back at the last 12 months and tried to determine what I needed to or wanted to do better in the coming year.

One thing that came to mind is the constant struggle I feel we (especially educators) go through in trying to make sense of the struggles of educating our children and the assumptions we make about their background, their sense of preparedness, their commitment and their overall ability to succeed. The problem here is that we make continual assumptions about who our students/children are supposed to be, how they should look and what they should know by the time they reach us at the high school level.

We assume and project this often mistaken view that “when I was their age, I knew…,” when in some cases we did not have all the tools and preparation we needed at that time to succeed in school. We assume everyone at that age was prepared. We assume every student comes from a home that supports learning and ensures the success of all their children. We assume every child has enough to eat, a place to study and a foundation for success.

Simply stated, we assume every student should come to school perfect and ready to learn. When that does not happen, educators become frustrated and defeated.

Therefore, my new year’s resolution is to take a step back when I encounter a student who is not so perfect, not so well prepared. I will not assume he or she should be perfect. My resolution is to be more compassionate, forgiving, understanding and supportive in and out of the classroom. In doing so, I will treat students and others not as if they are ill-prepared or irresponsible, but as someone with great capacity waiting for us to help him or her each their growth potential.

Who knows, maybe some of them will become educators and continue to share the promise of success and not make false assumptions about their students or the people they encounter.

Dwayne Evans is principal of Thornton Fractional North High School. The opinions are the writer's.

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