Educators and administrators get bogged down with the daily doing of education. They need to enforce discipline and rules, worry about achievement and results, mentor and develop teachers, and be a constant sounding board. It is a lot of balls to juggle. Through doing all the daily tasks of putting out the necessary paper work of great lesson plans that reach learning targets and differentiate instruction while managing a classroom, it is easy to forget why one is doing this work in the first place. The motivation must come from the desire to help kids reach their potential and discover the world. Envisioning the world as a better place and believing that all students can learn serve as the impetus for why many seek careers in education.
This morning I read Nicholas Kristof’s opinion in the New York Times. This article is about Chess and its educational benefits as it has advanced the achievement of a school in Brooklyn, Intermediate School 318, that is high-poverty, inner city and four-fifths Black or Hispanic. A recent documentary about this school called Brooklyn Castle is available for limited viewing. I can’t wait to see it but haven’t yet.
A Video Trailer of the movie:http://www.brooklyncastle.com/
This story is a great inspiration. I also know that for every success such as this one, I am sure there are many that are not. It is important to share this story and spread the word. Teachers and administrators need to bond together to collaborate for the benefit of students like the ones at Intermediate 318 in Brooklyn, NY. I know this neighborhood in Brooklyn. My father was raised near it. It is not somewhere you dream to raise your children. I applaud the teachers and administrators who have persevered and would not take no achievement for an answer.
Wherever you are, if you have the opportunity, take the time and effort to support projects such as this one. Students all have something that inspires them. It is our job as teachers and administrators to find it. The arts play a vital role in doing this. Students need to have something for which they feel passion and want to work at and they will do it. Creative expression is important to self-esteem. Give these students time and attention. Make them feel like what they think matters. Breaking through that tough exterior may take some work and effort, but it is well worth the time. Don’t accept that students are just apathetic or bound to repeat what their parents have done. Or maybe, they are learning about our culture and our language. Give them the opportunity. Persist until you find what lights the fire and light it.
I know lots of teachers. Many don’t give up and work very hard to reach students at risk. Some don’t. Some believe they really can’t learn. Well yes they can. Show them the way. Demand more from them and don’t accept inferior work as all they can do. Create accountability and follow through. Since I was in high school myself I realized that education can solve many of society’s problems. I know it will never be perfect, but education is the ticket out. It can raise you up and open doors of which you have only dreamed.
In the Declaration of Independence, as recently quoted by President Barack Obama, Thomas Jefferson said “All Men Are Created Equal…” Well, some truly are more equal than others. But the beauty of America is to envision that through fairness and equality, we strive to offer opportunity to all.