I hope everyone is easing back into school mode. On my end, I am getting back into the grind and developing projects and ideas for the New Year. Exciting times!
Anyways, let me pose a question- Do we all know what students go through when they enter a classroom? Do we assume they are ready to learn and conquer the day?!
How about I ask another question….Does it come across our minds that school can be a safe place for them? Maybe on a daily basis they are exposed to violence, abuse, and or unhealthy relationships from their caregivers. Maybe they experience their own internal struggles…
Hard to believe but I have met many students in my career that suggest that they rather be in the classroom than in their own homes.
So why the bloody hell do we sometimes make it difficult for them?
About a week in a half ago, I heard from a couple of colleagues that one of the teachers refused to open the door for the student because he was about 5 minutes late. Now, there are a couple of schools of thought that you might be pondering about in response to this situation…
- “It is a great practice because it teaches the student about time management skills and not to be late for class in the future”
- “It does not allow the student to communicate his rationale for his lateness”
- ” If we do not teach students how to be punctual, how will they survive in the real world? When they start to work? We might be setting them up for failure.”
- “That is unfair- the teacher did not ask why the student was late!”
- ” Did the teacher set his expectations out before and the student was late anyways?”
Lets go back to this situation- that same day the student messaged me and expressed how he was tired of hearing his parents yelling at each other at 6 am in the morning.
The door was shut on him. He was not allowed back in the classroom and decided to leave the school and skip all his classes.
Now, how did I feel? Personally, when I heard about this, I was really livid and full of steam. I felt like it was unethical and inappropriate for an educator to do such a thing. I was ready to go to the union about this sort of practice.
By his morning incident, am I saying was this an appropriate excuse to be late for an afternoon class? This is the trick question…..
It is a grey area- the educator did not know about his morning and nor did the student tell him about his morning. Nor should he have to though. Nonetheless, he shut the door without any opportunity to communicate.
What would it look like if there was communication between the two parties? What would it look like if the teacher asked him to stay after school and asked him a couple of questions about his lateness?
We might get answers and we might not, but inquiring about a student’s lateness shows compassion. I believe this comes before we motivate a student to learn about time management or responsibility. The student sees emotional investment and is willing to start to feel safe in their own space to learn and make mistakes.
Do not shut the door on a student- you are missing critical relational opportunities!
Thanks for reading,