Friday, November 29, 2013

Real world consequences? Responsibility? Our job is skills.

If you teach you have heard this from some teacher, "XYZ student does not do his/her work, if they don't do anything what can I do?  And if I do something special, is that fair? Am I really preparing him/her for the real world?  What about responsibility?"

Responsibility? Real world consequences?  Interesting thought, interesting title; let me be clear that High School is not the real world, it is a student world.  And while performance in HS is important, the "direct relationship" between HS performance and job performance is not a guarantee.   I fired a lot of "smart" people who played school well in my previous career.  We shouldn't teach responsibility at the HS level as a pass/fail; we must make sure they have skills, responsibility is second.  (And ever time I hear an employer whine about responsibility - I simply think of supply and demand - pay little, get little.  Interview poorly, get poor hires.) 

We need to try to make sure that responsibility is there, that students understand the difference between HS and the world. But my number one job is make sure my students have enough math to move on outside my walls - I cannot let a student's irresponsibility be an excuse.  That includes the kids who won't play school and do not want to do their work.

I completely believe with students who don't care about their grade that they need more assistance, the world requires them to have a diploma.  When, we teachers, let them fail we are creating a problem and not doing our job.  (Now a disclaimer or point of order, even when we do our job they may fail because the other edge of this sword is not lowering standards.)  We need to make sure, work towards, all students getting the learning done.  Thus the C word, consequences; preferably like the real-world would give.  Cause an F does not motivate them, a zero doesn't, those are not consequences for someone not playing school.

And while HS is their job now, it is not real-world  job.  We can talk about expectations but we cannot treat students who won't play school that school is like a real job.  Cause it simply isn't. 

And why would we want HS to be real-world!  In the world decisions are made more often about money and productivity, not about people - the world will make relationships but only with employees who have made a commitment to the business (and in corporate America that really does not happen).  In school every day can be new with students, chances can be plentiful.  And that is great -- firing and laying people off is overrated and  NO FUN!

So when a student does not work, I work with them.  I don't make it about grades, I make about a skill - about their future.  I also tell them that my job is not to just let them fail - I am suppose to make failing harder than passing!  I make the skill so important that I will pull them from lunch, before school, after school -- from study hall, you name it - I will do it.  And not surprisingly if they get success once and know you care, they start at least doing the minimum.

And if you think that is easy, you are not a teacher.