I spent a small portion of my day reviewing written suggestions for our school vision statement. One particular phrase captured my attention:
Our staff will recognize the potential in every student…
It is a powerful statement, but one that is extremely challenging. As educators, we hopefully operate on the premise that each one of our students possesses the ability to learn. However, when we make statements like the one above, do we really mean it, or is it just something we believe we are “supposed” to say?
On the good days, it is easy to see the potential in our students. When the lesson is going well, when the kids have all of their assignments completed, when the voicemail message light is off and the inbox is empty. Then there are those days that grab hold and shake our foundational beliefs about student learning. In these moments, a proverbial fog settles in around our class–or a particular student–clouding our ability to see their positive qualities. Days when students are not participating, when behavioral issues abound, or when a difficult student (or parent) leads us down a dark path.
I honestly believe that one of the most difficult aspects of being an educator is developing the ability to question our own practices and challenge our own thinking as it relates to the best interest of students. The best educators possess the ability to ask tough questions of students, colleagues and themselves. It is in the challenging moments, those that try our patience, that we have to ask perhaps the most difficult question of all…and be prepared act on the response. Do we mean what we say?
Will we recognize the potential of ALL students?