I'm starting to be understood by the choir, I think. Starting to.
I'm making some pretty significant departures from the workbook we're using in Theory. Its sequencing has students learning about dominant 7th chords before learning to distinguish major and minor triads. That's just silly.
In the last GM class, a class discussion led from languages into questions about where I'm from, and a student decided to ask me, "Are you Christian or Catholic?" I managed to resist addressing the glaring semantic issues of the question and answer, "I'm not comfortable answering questions about religion." Many in the class were shocked but I moved on quickly. How many other teachers would have answered without hesitation? In this school, I think many would. Should they feel comfortable answering such questions? I think we all should be, but there's absolutely no way that a person with a response outside of the mainstream wouldn't be at great risk of backlash.
In fact, I'm so nervous about exposing an answer to questions of my religion that I avoided (and once deleted in the paragraph above) an admission of where I stand out of fear that some day someone from this district (except Mrs. D) would read this blog. Well, I'm an atheist, and I say so to take one very small step toward the freedom to admit who one is in a classroom setting. Now I'm just hoping this doesn't come back to bite me before tenure protects me from discrimination someday.
At today's faculty meeting we watched an old video dramatizing a story about a cipher (not a concealed message, but a student who is left behind as meaningless) who dies, and whose death awakens the perspective of one of his past teachers to realizing that it is abhorrent to set a role for a student and then treat them according to it for years on end, effectively ignoring their development and needs. Well, I think the school district in which I work does an excellent job of avoiding allowing students to become ciphers. Usually this is a result of things outside of school that can't be controlled, but the in-school approach of the faculty seems quite effective. There are a couple of students that come to mind when considering those who not only don't have a network of friends, but are also considered slow by teachers and often have frightening out-of-school personal histories. I think we're doing the best job that we can.
When considering such a topic, I come to consider this as well: not only are educators expected to be guides toward success for students who self-motivate, but we are also expected to cover the other end of the spectrum — we are to be the safety net for students who are left behind by their family and community. Don't think for a moment that I'm whining; I am proud to take on both of these responsibilities (and everything in between). I just want non-educators to know that it's a lot of weight.
Too Late Now - Yonder Mountain String Band