Wednesday, December 30, 2015

“You’re Only 16, You Don’t Have a Rep Yet”

I got you singing didn’t I? Taking it back to Will Smith and DJ Jazzy Jeff’s “Parents Just Don’t Understand”.  Classic, late 80s.  Driving down 270, Middle/High school dances. We could relate.

Now we’re the adults. Does it still hold true?  Do we understand our 16 year olds? Do they have a “rep” OR are we giving them a “rep”?  Unfortunately, I think as a society, it’s the latter, and it’s not positive either.

About eight months ago I made a personal decision to return to teaching at the high school level after spending many years at the elementary.  I heard “Are you crazy?”  “Those kids are tough”. “Oh, the attitudes those kids have.”  “That age group is just rude, lazy, and careless.”  When I share that I want to go into high school administration, the responses are even worse!  

These stereotypes need to STOP - NOW.  Let me share why.

How about the student who struggles in his business/accounting class, but states that the teacher is “his main guy”, and #2 on his Christmas shopping list (following himself - he is after all still a teen) if he should run into some money.

The student that emails me over winter break just to check in and to see how my Christmas was.

The student that doesn’t have to be at school on a particular exam day, but comes with hot chocolate and a gift and asks if he can work on a computer to get caught up on his credit recovery classes.

The student that had to ride the bus to school during exams and came to me to see if he could just stay in my room until his exam time instead of “doing something I shouldn’t be doing with my friends” during that time.

The students who dress up in skirts and ties to interview for an extracurricular club position during their exam week.

What about the student who is often perceived as “bad” because he sags everyday and raps as loud as he can down the hall.  That same boy (once you take the time to talk to him and learn his story) will stop what he’s doing in the hall to give you a fist bump, open the door for you, and carry bags when he sees you loaded down.

No, I’m not Pollyanna.  There are some tough teens out there, I agree. I just wish more people would see the positives in our teens.  Relationships are the key to success when working with our kids.  I see it every day. I’m so fortunate to work with some extraordinary people who are the role models to these teens.  It’s about finding the time to figure them out and give them what they need. It’s going the extra mile.  

It’s the business/accounting teacher that hasn’t given up on that student and accommodates to meet his needs.

It’s the teacher who makes planners for students so they can keep track of their assignments.

It’s the teacher that makes muffins and casseroles for her students so they can have a warm breakfast every once and awhile.

It's the coach that takes the time to work with a special needs student and include him on the wrestling team - as a wrestler!

It’s the staff the models appropriate behaviors, attire, attitudes.  

It’s greeting students at the door, in the hallways, addressing them by name.

So let’s leave the Fresh Prince and Jazzy Jeff in 80s.  Let’s keep building relationships with today’s teens and drop the negative “rep”.

No comments:

Post a Comment