There is a term that goes around in the secondary education realm that really irks me. I teach in the electives area of business. Why it is called an elective is beyond me because everything deals with business. That’s a blog for another time. In those elective classes there is a term when a large group of students who really don’t do school well are put into a certain class. That class becomes known as a “dumping ground.” That term and attitude irks me. To me, those are the best students. Let me explain my experiences I have had with students like this.
Years ago I had a chance to teach in a class called SOLO. I can’t remember what the acronym meant. The S stood for success or something like that. Regardless of the name, the students were in a classroom because of absences or behavior stuff going on. They were in this classroom all day and it was sort of a place for them to attain some credit recovery in order to graduate. I remember every one of those students and their energy they had. I was able to teach anything business to the group. I had the privilege to work with the students while experimenting with curriculum. I definitely didn't work against them. These students had plenty of that. My favorite happening in the class was when I asked the students what they wanted to do. Many of them wanted to watch a movie called Boondock Saints. I had not seen it and they let me know it when I told them that. “Mr. H.. you HAVE to see it!” I grabbed it on DVD and checked it out for content. It was high in violence but no nudity or sex scenes. That I thought would be ok. I took a risk I guess. The movie was absolutely fantastic. It is one of my favorites. After the movie, I asked the students how much do you think it took to make the movie? They threw out some numbers and I looked it up online. I also looked up how much it made at the theatres. I told the students it was actually a flop at the theaters and they were stunned. They were so interested in how a movie was so great missed on the big screen. The lessons were being created! We looked at reasons and marketing. I had the students create a marketing plan for the movie if they were to release it again. We talked profits and loss on entertainment. We talked accounting and break even points. All this was around their choice of movie. It was amazing. This was a “dumping ground.”
The fact is that teaching would actually be boring for me if there were no challenges. The not so good students are the ones I love the most. They challenge my profession. They challenge me to be better. I tell them thank you all the time for making me a better teacher. When I do that, you should see their faces look at me in a questionable manner. They are like “What?!” Then I explain that I only get better because they ask the why question over and over again through their actions. They appreciate that. When I let them know their lense matters, they start sharing more ideas and concepts through their experiences. That is how I grow as a professional, a teacher, and ultimately a human being. I will never call a class a “dumping ground” and neither should you. If you use this term as a teacher, you’re mindset is wrong. Get creative. Listen. Learn. You have been given that opportunity when you get “not so great” students.
Another way to “Disrupt Education”