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Habit 4

To be youth advocates, desiring a more fair, equitable and democratic society.

As a teacher, it is my duty to not only teach the students a standard set of Michigan standards, but also to teach them about life and being a good citizen. Along with that is the responsibility to fight for what is in the best interest of the students. This could be anything from bringing negligent parents to the attention of the authorities, or giving the students hope that they can achieve more than they ever thought possible.

Harrington Elementary has adopted a “Kids at Hope” philosophy. This philosophy states that every student is a student and hope and has the ability within his or herself to achieve what they dream of. It is up to the teacher, however, to provide them with the tools necessary to achieve. Anyone who knows Albion, knows that it is a lower income area. This, however, in the mind of the teachers doesn’t matter. Each student has the ability to be success. In order to transfer this to our students, we encourage the students to perform their best, but we also recite with them a pledge daily to reinforce in their minds that they are able to achieve what they set their minds to. Part of this pledge is to make the students believe that they do not have to follow in the footsteps of their parents or older brothers and sisters; they can do better.

In the United States, every child has the opportunity and is given the power to achieve through education anything. Every student has been granted a free education. Every student is being taught the same curriculum across the board. It is up to the teachers to push that further and help the students learn to apply that knowledge. There should be no excuse for a student to not achieve all they are capable of. They must, however, have the belief in themselves to do that.

As a naïve American, I had heard about No Child Left Behind and often wondered about its effectiveness. Although I do not agree with many aspects of the NCLB, I have come to appreciate the equality that it brings to the classroom. Each student across the state of Michigan is responsible for the same set of information at the same time. This is where differentiation comes into play.

It is one thing to make students accountable for the same set of information, but they should also be equal within the classroom as people. In one of the social studies units, we address bullying and what it means to be a good friend. Students learn not only to respect themselves, but also others. The students learn that not everyone learns or develops at the same time and that is ok. We have stressed the importance of individuality among the students and tried to help them with their self-efficacy through a variety of readings.

As a teacher, I will reuse the lessons about Leo the Late Bloomer in order to reinforce individuality in the classroom. In order to have a structured and safe environment, students need to be treated equally by the teacher as well as peers. In my future classroom, I will expand and review the concepts of Leo the Late Bloomer frequently. Part of my responsibility as a teacher is to teach the students about life and being different is a part of life that should be embraced.

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