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Excellent Teachers Never Blame Parents for Students' Academic Failure

Cassandra George Sturges
 


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Studies show that statistically there are more African American students in special education than there are in regular classrooms. The typical child in a special education is a black male child. African Americans make up 13 percent of the U. S. population and almost 50% of prisoners in the U. S. penile system. There is a direct relationship between a person’s life opportunities and level and quality of education.

A classroom is the most important public room in the world because this is where most human beings cognitively develop and learn to adapt to societal expectations. The classroom is where they have the opportunity to transform beyond troubled home lives and poor living conditions. The classroom is the breeding ground that nourishes the seeds of hopes, dreams and ideas that change human society into something greater than we have ever imagined. Teachers are the caretakers of the classroom garden. They nurture it with their integrity, wisdom, dignity, patience, understanding and a sense of justice. Without these characteristics we leave students with empty facts and figures. The proper encouragement and support from a teacher can determine if a child becomes the next president or prostitute; doctor or drug dealer. The teacher’s attitude, expectations and work ethic towards students have a ripple affect on the entire world.

A certified teacher is tested on their academic knowledge if the subject matter. However, several studies show that the most important characteristics of excellent teachers are: enthusiasm, compassion, sense of humor and passion. None of these characteristics can be taught from a text book; they can only be modeled by a teacher who already possesses these characteristics. Many teachers love the subjects that they teach, but in order to be effective they must love the students so much more. They must embrace the students who are not dressed properly, sleep in class and who appear unloved at home. These are the students who need excellent teachers the most.

There is debate between parents and teachers as to who is the blame for student’s poor academic performance and achievement. There is an assumption that parents are the major reason that children fail academically. Even if this statement has truth, it lacks power to change the lives of most children. This assumption contains an unstated belief that all parents love their children and are knowledgeable about child development. Human beings are not required to be certified or licensed to become a parent. Reproduction is a biological function of the human body. Parents are not required to pass a test to determine if they are intelligent, wise, nurturing or compassionate. We have age limits for consuming alcoholic beverages, dropping out of school, joining the military, purchasing firearms, buying cigarettes and watching R-rated movies. There isn’t an age requirement for being responsible for the nurturance and guidance of another life that shares our genetic makeup.

Many people become parents due to various reasons… some as simple as their birth control method failed. Some women were raped. Some children were conceived under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Parents are not required to be educated or know how to read, write, add or subtract. But teachers expect parents to help their children with home work. If a parent has not established a healthy sense of self-love- they can not impart these characteristics own to their children.

On the other hand, becoming a qualified teacher is a conscious decision that requires years of training. Teachers are not only required to know their subject matter, but also understand how humans learn and develop in various stages. Teachers are required to pass a test to determine if the have the necessary skills to teach and guide children.

Teachers should be knowledgeable of their motivations for going into this profession. The fantasy of teaching perfect children who sit quietly, obey, and listen to every word uttered in class is an unrealistic expectation. Many of the problems in public schools are not related to lack of financial funding, but a lack of fundamental understanding and application of the basic building blocks that create a positive learning environment for students. The same characteristics that make excellent parents make excellent teachers. The most important difference between the two roles is that becoming a parent is not always a conscious decision made in the best interest of the child, whereas the best interest of the child is the primary and only function of being an effective teacher.

Teachers bring your hearts to Class

1. Sense of Justice

Are you punishing the entire class for the behavior of one child?
Are all children treated fairly?
Do you show favoritism?

2. Wisdom

When students ask questions about the lesson do you refer them to the text book or find another way to explain so that that child can understand it?
Can the students detect when you are having problems outside of the class room?
Do you empower your students or just lecture to them?
Do you understand your strengths and weaknesses and know when to forgive yourself? (you’re only human)

3. Respect

Do you consistently yell at your students?
Do you make negative, denigrating comments about their parents and families?
Do you argue with your students as if you are peers?
Do you use “name calling” as a method of discipline?
Do you purposely aim to embarrass, shame or humiliate your students in front of the class

4 Integrity

Do you negatively judge your students by their language or appearance?
Do you admit to it to your students when you have made a mistake?
Deep in your heart, do you still love teaching?
Do you present yourself as a role-model to your students?

5. Compassion

Do you seek the good in your students?
Do your students trust you?
Do you make an effort to learn the names of all of your students?
Do you notice when your students make efforts to improve their pass grades or behaviors?
Do you make it a point to compliment your students when they do well no matter how small?
Do you notify parents when their children are doing well or only when it’s bad news?

6. Enthusiasm

Do you constantly update your lesson plans to incorporate new information?
Do you smile and laugh during your lectures?
Do you incorporate music, poetry, and art in your lesson plans?
Do you mainly depend on reading and worksheets as your main way of teaching?
Are you enthusiastic and energetic about teaching your subject?

7. Pride

Students, teachers & Administrators feel that it is everyone’s responsibility to keep the school neat and clean.
Are you proud to be a teacher or is it just a job?

8. Knowledge

Do you use a variety of teaching methods and strategies to accommodate student’s variety of learning styles?

- Howard Gardner’s 8 Types of Intelligence
- Left Brain & Right Brain Learners
- Auditory, Visionary and Tactile Learners

Do you incorporate peer teaching, tutoring and learning strategies in your class?
Do you give students group projects that allow them to work together and learn to get along with others to complete a shared goal?

9. Patience

Do you become annoyed when students don’t understand a subject the first time? Do you listen to your student’s concerns?

Cassandra George Sturges Psy. D is a mother of two teenagers, a full-time psychology instructor, advice columnists for Today's Black Woman Magazine, workshop presenter, and publisher of Authentik Beauty Magazine.

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