Students want the truth about their effort in school.

It was a rainy Monday morning late in the school year. I was walking through the halls during lunch. I turned the corner and witnessed something shocking. A history teacher had a student backed up against the wall and he was yelling at him to do better in class. He wasn’t physically holding this kid but he was right in his face. I was two years into my teaching career and naive. I froze in the hall and watched not knowing what to do. Around the far corner came a vice-principal who immediately approached the teacher. The vice-principal yelled at the teacher to back off the kid and to stop yelling at him. What happened next was something I have never forgotten. The student asked the VICE-PRINCIPAL to let the teacher continue. The student said what the teacher is saying is true and needed this speech to become more motivated to do better. The STUDENT was asking for the truth. The STUDENT needed the truth!

That incident happened over 15 years ago in my previous school and I have never forgot it. Students know when they are not working hard. They know that they can do better. I have seen this play out more and more during my career. The scenarios are the same. I will talk with my students and build them up after I have identified where they are not working hard enough. I have also ran into many school leaders who don’t identify with this approach.They will start to hold back the teacher not realizing the relationship the teacher has with the student. There are assumptions made quickly and decisions are made without understanding all sides of the issue. Education has gone along with this pattern of status quo for a long time. It is why we are where we are today. I feel we hide truths from our students. We don’t want to “hurt their feelings” by holding back the truth because of school leaders or parents getting mad. We as educators need to stop this holding back. Students in high school know when they are being pushed through and not challenged. They don’t appreciate it. Every student that I have had hard truth conversations with have thanked me later. This incident at my previous school taught me a lot about education and even being a parent. I never got to thank that student that day. If I ever see him again, I definitely will.


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