Sunday, January 22, 2012

Add Another "R"

In this compelling piece in the Portland Press Herald, North Yarmouth Academy Head of School Brad Choyt redesigns the three Rs. He suggests that relationships, respect, and resilience need to be taught, too, in order for our students to be successful. I couldn't agree more, though I will add one more R: responsibility.

Teaching responsibility has become harder and harder to do. And it may seem, at times, to be counter-intuitive to the creation and implementation of interventions, those strategies we use with our struggling students to help them achieve. We shouldn't view the two concepts - responsibility and intervention - as diametrically opposed, however; nor do we have to abandon the former for the latter.

I know, because I've seen the two work together. Last year, our team wrote several interventions (and each of us, individually, implemented our own strategies, too) for a student who just wasn't getting that doing schoolwork is a building block for later academic success, a stepping stone toward college, a job in itself that has its own reward. None of us backed down on our expectations of responsibility, but all of us cut the kid some slack as life had dealt some crappy blows and figuring it all out was clearly a daunting task. We were consistent but not rigid. We reiterated our deadlines and repeated our requirements and recapped over and over again our care and concern for the student. And, eventually, the kid got it, pretty much. We've seen a different student this year.

What that student learned, hopefully, is that being responsible, in addition to strong relationships with one's teachers, shared respect, and resilience, results in success. And we, modeling all of these important R's, are rewarded with the knowledge that what we did worked. And just might work again.

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