The Goal for My Education Isn’t to be Well-Behaved

By: Kai-Willow Smith

Have you ever been told by your teacher that you were doing just fine, but in reality, you know you are close to failing? Welcome to the life of many black and brown students and parents. I am one of those who was doing poorly academically but told by the white teacher I am doing fine.

“I wanted to be able to get good grades and master what I was taught.”

Since kindergarten, my report card said that I was doing poorly in all subjects. The only good report I got was on my behavior. I was the student that every teacher and administration wished the whole school was like. I was never disrespectful. I always did what I was told to do. My mom, however, wasn’t okay with the only good thing I was achieving in school was my behavior. She felt I deserved more.

“It took years for me to get the right support that I needed from my teachers.”

My mother became concerned and looked into what could be going on. I worked hard in school, but I never seemed to get good grades. By the time I was in second grade, we learned I had ADHD. From there, my mom worked to get the help I needed. It took years for me to get the right support that I needed from my teachers.

I was always treated well because I was the well-behaved student. Teachers genuinely enjoy having me in their classrooms, and that felt good. I watched other students get yelled at almost daily. However, getting treated right wasn’t all I wanted. I wanted to be able to get good grades and master what I was taught. Since I was struggling academically, my mom pushed teachers to do their best to help me and continues to do so today.

“There’s no room for slacking,” was my mom’s motto. Now that’s my motto. It is what helped me get to where I am today.