Twenty-four hours after the end of the 2010-11 school year finds me still trying to analyze why this year was so difficult. Why was it that so many students in the past group were such a challenge? Did my teaching change? Is my tolerance level low? Have I lost “it”?
The more I think about it, there were things that I had no control over that impacted the dynamic of this classroom more than I imagined. Teaching in an urban district comes with challenges of trauma – social, familial, economic. Sometimes these are easy to surmount, but often they are not.
When school works best, there is a partnership between student, teacher and parent. When one of those links is broken or dysfunctional, the possibility of success is lessened — this is what I believe. The value of an education is undermined when there is lack of support from home.
Within the group that has just moved on, there were quite a few broken links in this triumvirate: children who did not have the medication that would enable them to focus (enough times that it started to seem as if the parent was purposefully withholding). Children who did not arrive at school on time, not by a few minutes, but by hours and missed valuable lessons. Children who did not arrive, period. Absenteeism of 25, 30, 40 days of school. That’s a considerable amount of time away from school when no reason was offered.
School works best when there is a partnership. We did the best we could together, broken link or not. But I am so hoping that next year things are more cohesive, that I can convince parents – engaged or disaffected – that without their involvement, interest, and input their student cannot achieve all that they are capable.