If They Would Just Put Forth The Effort...
In our collaboration meetings, I keep hearing, "If they would just put forth the effort they would be fine. They're smart kids if they try." I even think I'm guilty of uttering these very words, myself. That's actually when it hit me. As I uttered these words, my brain was screaming "We're not giving them the incentive to put forth the effort." At the time I still hadn't fully processed this statement and knew I couldn't speak it.
Just the other day, during our 4th grade collaboration meeting we discussed our failing students. It was said that they don't even try and if they'd just followed the study guide they would get A's because it's just like the test. Just the day before we'd met with our 6th grade team and a similar issue was discussed. At this point, I had fully processed that meeting before and I couldn't contain my ideas any longer.
I finally asked, "What if the study guide didn't look like the test?"
The teacher looked at me with a perplexed look and said, "What do you want me to do? Just not do a study guide?"
I could feel her confused tension right away and scrambled to alleviate that stress by adding more words. Let me just tell you right now, that does not work. I did manage to throw out some ideas. And I'm fortunate to have a boss that attempts to understand my craziness so he bantered ideas with me to take the unintended pressure off the teacher.
What I've learned from this experience is, everybody wants to learn. It is instinctively a part of our nature. This is how we continue to grow and evolve. What we, as educators, need to figure out is this; What can we do to ignite that drive? If we want these kids to put forth effort we need to give them a reason to do so. We spend so much precious time thinking for our kids we forget to let them do it themselves. Therefore, they forget how. That's not their fault. Practice makes perfect, right?