August 22, 2017 10:33:29 AM
Welcome teachers, as we present to you the Class of 2018.
School has been in session for two weeks, long enough for campus to settle into the familiar rhythms of the school year. By now, you have some sense of who these seniors are, what you can do for them and what you can't.
As it is with every class, you will find these students fall into three basic groups. Veteran teachers can quickly identify where each student will fall.
Although there is some possibility that a few will move from one group to another, this late into their K-12 education, most are on a path from which they will not greatly deviate.
The first group is the achievers. There is little you can do to harm them. At some point well before they arrived in your classroom, they have made the mental connection between academics and their future, the former being a means to the latter.
They can see beyond this school year and while their vision of what lies ahead may be limited, they are sure in their steps and eager to seize the promise of the road ahead.
Any obstacle that emerges before them, they consider a challenge, a problem to be solved, which is the essence of education -- problem solving. For these students, the teacher's job is to feed their flame. Push them, encourage them, be their champion.
The second group we find at the opposite end of the spectrum. There is little you can do to help them. Long before they arrived in your classroom, they, too, made a conscious choice. For them, there is no link between the classroom and the broader world that awaits. School is something to be endured. They are marking time. There will be occasionally flashes of ability, just enough to let you know that the potential is there, latent and ignored.
But for the most part, they will do just enough -- and only just enough -- to cross that stage next spring with the classmates to collect a diploma that signifies almost nothing.
You can not give up on them, of course. It is your job not to give up on them. Yet the investment you make will likely produce limited dividends. You do your best and hope against hope that even this late in the game somehow a spark will emerge to ignite a fire.
The last group is that squishy middle. This is the group of students who can be most influenced by teachers.
They are something of a hybrid of the two other groups. Their work sometimes reveals an aptitude and an interest for learning. At other times, their work is uninspired and marginal. They may see a vague, link between their education and their future, but they may be too preoccupied with their present comfort to invest much in that foggy future.
They will not fail, but neither will they excel. They may yet become achievers by year's end. But they may just as easily slip into a casual indifference that will produce only limited success and opportunities upon graduation.
They have everything needed but a passion for learning and the challenge for the teacher is to find out what fuels the fire and why.
So there you have it, the Class of 2018.
It is quite a challenge.
We wish you every success in the important work you do.
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