My primary mentor in education is a black immigrant woman. From Africa. All her kids were having fun and doing art based projects. And hard reading, and dialog, and writing, and sometimes — not happy — in her slave labor classes.
And passing — standardized tests.
She the first person to tell me, when I came to her crying…
“I’m so nice to them! I let them do whatever they want! And they “hate” me!”
“That’s your problem. You’re too nice. I told you. You are not their friend. You’re the teacher. They’re your students. And that’s all there is to it. Act like it.”
(That’s exactly what she said. And so? It sticks in my head. And so, that’s exactly what I became. It was the hardest thing I ever did in my career. I had to repeat it to myself “I am your teacher, not your homie…I am your teacher, not your homie. ” Hasn’t failed me. Yet. And Ever. And my kids? Pass, these standardized pipeline to prison tests.)