Wednesday, July 23, 2014

No Excuses

excusesIn Never Too Late from Sioux's Page, Sioux talks about a 93 year old author who just had her novel published.

This had me thinking about coming up with excuses why I can’t do something or why I can’t achieve a dream.

I don’t remember my parents ever letting me get away with an excuse why I couldn’t do something. They believed in me and didn’t want to hear that I couldn’t do something. It was just unheard of.

I knew growing up that I wanted to go to Furman University. I never believed I would go anywhere else. So when it came time to apply for real (I had been applying since I was in 6th grade but they kept turning me down), I only applied to this one school. Even though it was 800 miles away and it was a private school, I didn’t think about the cost. My first priority was getting accepted. Once I got accepted I would deal with the financial issue. I never doubted in my mind that I wouldn’t be accepted. I didn’t have any excuse not to try.

I was accepted in November of my senior year and then had to think about financing my education. I was going to do whatever I could to pay my way since my parents didn’t have the money to send me to an out of state private school. I guess the school wanted me too because they gave me a lot of scholarships and I took out a loan. But again, I never thought I wouldn’t be able to go because of money. I didn’t have any excuse not to find the money.

Once I got to college, I knew that I had to keep my grades up so I could keep my scholarships. I was also working every work study job that I could find. I did not have any excuse not to have good grades or for looking for jobs to earn some money.

Once I graduated, I never doubted I would find a job. I knew that I was going to be the best special education teacher ever! I quickly found a job and loved teaching. I worked to be a better teacher every day of my career. I had no excuses not to seek improvement.

Sometimes I think schools let the students have excuses why they can’t do something and this encourages that behavior. They find excuses for being late to school, for being absent from school, for not doing their homework, for not doing their classwork, for not being the best that they can be.

Sometimes teachers feel sorry for their students because of their home life or their backgrounds. Sometimes it is because of their disability. I hear schools talk about rigor and then say my students can’t achieve the rigor of a general curriculum so they write them off.

My students might not be able to achieve what a general ed student can but they deserve rigor in their own curriculum. They deserve the right to be taught and challenged so that they can reach for the stars too otherwise we are doing nothing but babysitting and warehousing these students. If we don’t believe in them, who will?

As a teacher, I need to get past their home life and backgrounds and their disability. Their life is what it is and I need to help them cope with the present and the future, not the past. I need to give my students the tools they need so that they don’t have excuses for not succeeding. I need to help them get past the point of using excuses to explain their behavior and help them learn determination and perseverance instead.

Do you allow excuses? At what point do you if you do? Please share.

mage: 'My Dog Ate My Website!'
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1 comment:

Sioux said...

Thanks for the shout-out, Pat. In my class, we try to work around the obstacles, instead of using them as excuses. It's tough--as you know--because lots of people (parents, teachers) are enablers and want to make people into pity cases, and then those pity cases are left behind...dismissed and forgotten.

Later this week, I'm going to interview that 93-year old writer. She's truly inspirational.