I wasn't one of the popular kids in high school. I wasn't athletic, or political. I didn't come from a wealthy family. I wasn't a stoner either. And you should know too, that my grades weren't good enough to earn me the title of nerd. I just sort of stayed below the radar and did my thing. In those days there were lots of labels for all the different groups. The popular kids were either athletic or came from wealthy families. The stoners of course were the kids who might have had a tougher family life but not necessarily. I was in the choir but wasn't talented like those geeks on Glee.
I really didn't like high school much. I was glad when it was over.
I've been thinking about elementary and high school a lot lately. Shaune's experiences as a practice teacher have made this the topic of many conversations. He says I'd be surprised to know that there are just as many labels being thrown around by the teachers as there are by the students. Sometimes by necessity and other times he wasn't so sure.
My own experiences with teachers has been rich and varied.
I can still remember my grade three teacher Ms. Scarfone who I missed so dearly during the summer, that I wrote her a letter every week. Or the the teacher in high school who told me I might be good at writing and encouraged me to continue outside of class. And I remember the one who crushed me by telling me that she would have spanked me if I was her kid because my penmanship disgusted her.
I was nine at the time, and had written a whopper of a story and was downright giddy to have her read it.
In those early years, I just didn't know better. I lacked the self-esteem to realize that I didn't have to take their comments to heart. Or that they were just people like me and their influence didn't need to shape who I was.
But I didn't know better. And some of it did shape me.
Shaune told me that in both of his practicums there were several kids labelled as school-to-work. This meant that they were never going to pursue a post secondary education. They would be going straight into the work force after high school. It implied that they had tough family lives with little support. They came from a lower socio economic status than the other kids.
I had lots of questions. Who labelled them? What did it mean for their high school educations? Did they get extra attention because they weren't getting it at home? How did people know they didn't want to go to college or university, did they say so?
Of course Shaune didn't have all the answers but he did notice that when it came to some of the lesson plans, the school-to-work kids were given the monotonous assignments more often. In a few instances where the kids were learning to make a certain dish (Shaune is training to be a hospitality and tourism teacher - specializing in cooking and food prep), the teacher in charge would say put the school-to-work kids on dish duty. It didn't happen every single time but it was obvious to Shaune that it happened most of the time. In a feedback survey he had them fill out, a few of these kids said that they wished they weren't on dish duty all the time.
I'm not a teacher. I can't imagine what it must be like to deal with the shenanigans of teenagers day-in and day-out. I know that so, so many teachers are there for the kids, to influence them, help them, shape them for their futures.
But this really bothered me. Shouldn't the school-to-work kids be getting more training in the complex tasks so that they are ready for the workforce sooner? Wouldn't it make more sense if everyone take a turn on dish duty? My husband sensed that it would have been a lot more work to put them on the complex tasks. The teacher would be forced to focus on these kids leaving the others unattended for longer.
I know that this is a can of worms that involves budgets, classroom sizes, assistant teachers, salaries and much much more my limited knowledge of this area can't even begin to imagine. I certainly am not pointing the finger or judging. I'm sure I can't begin to understand what's involved. But it did make me think about those kids in my grade who went on to do great things and those who didn't. What could have changed it? Were the successful kids just plain smarter than the others?
Makes me wonder.
I'm pouring my heart out with Shell. Please check out some of the other posts.