Sunday, January 5, 2020

If You Think They Can...

It's the last day of what was a delightfully relaxing winter break, and I finally opened my school bag and dug into the tasks I've been avoiding all break.  Because of (or in spite of?) my ADHD, it's usually easier for me to concentrate with some background noise.  This morning's background noise came in the form of The Ron Clark Story, streaming on Amazon Prime.

Yes, it's a completely predictable story, one that happens day in and day out in classrooms across America, just not in a public way.  And yes, it's got Chandler in it, which is helping ease my Friends withdrawal.

It's that (awful) social experiment in living color - I don't remember from where it originated - the school who made completely heterogeneous groups of students, and then gave each teacher a different message.  One teacher was told they have the highest achieving students, another teacher was told they had the lowest-achieving students, and the third teacher was told that their class had a mix of ability levels.

You can probably guess what happened.  The students in the "highest" class made the most growth.  The students in the "lowest" class made the least growth and even backslid.  The "average" class did exactly that, produced average results.

How can anyone be in education, and *not* believe their students can succeed?  Wherever we as educators set the bar is exactly how high our students will reach.  I witnessed that year in and year out when I was in my own classroom - watching kids who previously were "problem" children for any number of reasons - succeed and even learn to love school.

Yeah, it may be a cheesy film, but if you've got Amazon Prime, grab the tissue and watch it anyway, even if it's just on in the background!

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