An Investment in the Youth of America

I like to think Fifth grade is such a big year in many kids lives. For me, it was the last year of Elementary School which meant moving on to Middle school was not far away. But it was more than that. It was time to sit in the backseat of the bus. It was time to play on the new park for Recess. It was time to travel out of state to Alabama for a field trip to the Space Museum. It was time to be the oldest kids in the entire school. Looking back at it, I loved Fifth grade…… Until it was time to go to class. Class was never engaging and had zero appeal to a majority of the classroom. Everyday walking in and doing the same things day after day after day began to feel like clockwork. The only true times to escape from class were Recess, Lunch, and Enrichment Classes (Art, Gym, Music, Etc…). But the worst part about the whole thing was hearing about “cool class” down the hall. Everybody always wanted to be in the “cool class” with the “cool teacher”.

This past week, I was scrolling through Twitter and came across a tweet. This tweet showed a relatively young English teacher (Barry White Jr.) in North Carolina. He had all of his students waiting down the hall in a single file line waiting to get to the front for one reason: Handshakes. Every single one of the children has a personalized handshake with the teacher and they are also clearly excited to get to the front of the line to practice it.

The first thought that came to my mind when I saw the video…… This is the “cool class” that everybody wants to be in, and is definitely the “cool teacher” everybody wants. Clearly every kid in that line loves when they get to go to English class with Mr. White. With handshakes ranging from dabs to shoulder bumps, who wouldn’t want to be in Barry White Jr.’s Fifth grade English class?

It doesn’t take much to see that these students love their teacher and love how invested he is in them. Clearly, White Jr. has created a relationship with each student individually, creating a successful learning environment which seems like it is hard to find now-a-days. He mentions his relationship with these kids when he tells ABC News, “It’s muscle memory at this point,” he said. “I do it so much with them. They love coming up to me and doing it. I just know the certain moves that go with certain kids because it’s personalized. For example, I started a step team at the school. Some of my 5th graders I teach are on that step team and you’ll notice we step a little bit in their handshakes.”

Kids across the nation consistently look at school the way I did when I was in Fifth grade; negatively. How can youth education consistently draw such little interest from students? Truckloads of tax-payer money goes towards public education, and right now it’s not being spent efficiently. The Government needs to focus on hiring teachers like Barry White Jr, teachers who personally invest in each and every student.

When student’s are in a classroom teachers should be customizing the experience inside the classroom based on what gets the students most engaged. If a candidate for a public teaching job does not have the ability to adjust their teaching style to their students, then they should not be considered for the job.

Teachers looking to find success in their students can maximize this by personally investing in their students. For White Jr, success in the classroom has come just from starting class with these handshakes, as he told ABC news, “I’m always pumped up and then we start doing the moves and that brings them excitement and pumps them up for a high-energy class.”

Education is the most important asset and investment for the well-being of the country’s future. If children are educated with personalized classroom education, would the quality of American Education increase? If the answer is yes, than moves should be made. But as former United States President Franklin D. Roosevelt once said about the importance of education; “Democracy cannot succeed unless those who express their choice are prepared to choose wisely. The real safeguard of democracy, therefore, is education.”

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