Monday, August 10, 2015

Assuming.

Keep in mind that I used to work with middle school students when I tell you this joke:

You know what happens when you assume?

You make an ASS out of U and ME.

It's an odd joke, that doesn't really make a whole lot of sense, yet 7th graders think it is a riot.  Unfortunately, (or fortunately?) the little acronym of ASSUME, can certainly serve as  a reminder to all of us.

When I started with my school district, they loaded all of the new teachers on a school bus and drove us around the district.  I'd lived in the district for more than ten years and had kids in the district, so I thought I was ahead of the learning curve on this one.

Boy was I wrong.

Subsidized housing, teeny mobile homes, large apartment buildings that had seen better days. There are kids who live in shelters and in cars, or live in overcrowded conditions with several generations of family. Somehow, I had only seen MY neighborhood, and the NICER neighborhoods around me, and had missed seeing how many families lived, struggling to stay afloat.  It was a sombering experience, and one that I remember vividly, more than 16 years later.

Assumptions...

I was surprised last week to see this blog entry from Edutopia, cautioning classroom teachers against using the iconic "What did you do on your summer vacation?" assignment.
Author Alex Shevrin points out that by asking questions, we're ASSUMING that the kids will have fabulous tales to tell.  We hope that by focusing on something they enjoyed, (and assuming that nobody DOESN'T enjoy summer...), we'll get adjective-filled essays which serve as perfect imagery for the perfect paper.  Chances are pretty good that none of us is expecting papers with stories that might require interventions by guidance counselors, social workers, or child protective services, though.  (After all, we are now mandated reporters!)

Edutopia asks the question, "What are your best ways of welcoming your students back to school in ways that support them, no matter what their summer looked or felt like? "

It's an interesting challenge to consider, as you take a summer drive around your district to take a really CLOSE look at where your students truly call home.