"My teachers usually decided within a month that I was going to fail and they just left me alone. It was so easy after that. But it’s weird. Teachers give up on kids all the time because they get overwhelmed. What other job exists where you could just look at an overwhelming project and say, "Nah. Screw this. I can’t fix this." I’m a mechanic and if I decided a car was too hard to fix, just tossed my wrench and said, "This car doesn’t want to work," I’d get fired."
One of my students said this to me today as we ate lunch. He struggled in traditional public schools, and while some of that stems from choices and decisions he made, I can also see how this is a perception of teachers that he and other students I have worked with might have.
Here’s my question, my puzzle, the thing that I most want to solve: How do we create small-school opportunities for ALL students so that they feel valued and safe, can have choice and say in the direction of their learning, and feel accountable to the other members of the learning community - the students as well as the teachers and so that teachers can feel like they have the time to give to connect with students and be sensitive and responsive to them as individuals more often? (I know we do this already with tons of students and multiple preps and papers to grade and tests to prep for. We do it. But kids are still slipping through the cracks and some of them before they realize that it’s not too late to change it, so I’m just wondering how we can do it better?)