Friday, February 03, 2006

Perceptions

Do we treat our students differently based on our perceptions of who they are in the school community? You enter your classroom on the first day of school and to your wondering eyes appear 35 individuals. Do we treat them as individuals or do we classify them based on the way they look, who they hang out with, what sports they do or don't play? Some of them may have been in your class in previous years and we know exactly who they are. But are they still that same person the following year? How about siblings?...you had Karen two years ago and she was such a diligent student. Her brother is now in your class and is he the same diligent student as his sister? How do you combat against judging your students based their looks, siblings, sports, etc.?

9 Comments:

Blogger ChingyenG said...

That's one of the few good things about being a first year teacher. You really don't have much, if any, preconceived notion about anyone or anything. (Or vice versa.) I would say it's hard to keep one's personal bias away when making professional judgements. We may try to be fair. But is it really possible to evaluate a person in a vaccum and independent of anything else? Or is it a package deal? As long as it's not done with malice...

7:00 AM  
Blogger Krueger said...

This is something that I have learned through experience. I did my student teaching at an at risk high school in Las Vegas, where every student looked a little on the rough side. I definitely learned quickly that looks can be deceiving because underneath that outer rough appearance I found very intelligent and caring kids. This is one lesson that I'm thankful I had the opportunity to learn and that I know will stick with me forever. For me, it all comes down to looking beyond the outside and getting to know my students on the inside.

11:01 AM  
Blogger Caroline S said...

Surprizes good and bad come in all different packages. If you jump to conclusions quickly your the person that loses.

2:51 PM  
Blogger melissa m.o. said...

I think this was a major point of Tony Winger's presentation on Tuesday. How and why are we grading? Is it because they are sweet and know how to play the game that they receive the "A" or is it because they know the essential learnings in our class. Something to think about.

11:56 AM  
Blogger Melissa Mindell said...

I believe that one of the main reasons one becomes a teacher is the love of kids. All kids. I, like krueger, began my teaching career at a rough school in Thornton and experienced the same thing. Coming from a sheltered "suburban" life I was very culture shocked when I taught my first year. I had thousands or preconcieved notions about all my students based on what they looked like or how they walked. After the first week of teaching them it really stuck me that most kids are really good on the inside and just have a tough time, for whatever reason, showing that on the exterior. I now, thrive on getting to know those "odd" students to see who they really are.

9:26 AM  
Blogger tstlouis said...

I think that it's interesting that Melissa M.O. tied this in with Tony Winger's presentation. Maybe part of how kids are graded should be based on their attitudes. When is the last acting like a total jerk ever got you anything? "Playing the game" is part of life... I think people used to call it "Street Smarts".

1:41 PM  
Blogger Scotty W said...

Tom, that is a very interesting point. But should a student be punished by receiving a worse grade for having a slightly bad attitude even if he learned the class information in which he was asked?

1:58 PM  
Blogger tstlouis said...

It's not about getting punished either, Scott. In my opinion, grades are not necessarily intended to punish OR reinforce. Rather, they are simply feedback; a reflection of what the student has done. Punishment is a stimulus that will make a behavior less likely to occur in the future. How many teachers are giving Fs as a means to try to make students stop doing F work? That doesn’t make sense. The F is just feedback of what the kid did (or didn’t do).

2:19 PM  
Blogger lgaffney said...

It is interesting to think about how a student's attitude connects with his or her grades. One discovery I have made is that oftentimes a negative attitude IS a reflection of a lack of understanding. That doesn't mean that he or she is graded on that negative attitude, but that that negative attitude and that low grade usually correlate. It's easier for a kid to say, "This is stupid" or "I hate this" than it is to say, "I don't understand." Although I cannot grade a student as a consequence of this negative attitude, I try not to let it persuade my perceptions or him/ her. Asking a kid why they are feeling so negative and working with the lack of understanding usually yields good results, I think.

11:01 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home