Thursday, June 25, 2015
A Reflection on College and Career Ready
This is a series of blog posts I hope to write over the summer to reflect on my first year as a 6th grade middle school language arts teacher. Teaching is hard. Reflecting on teaching is even harder. Reflecting points out my mistakes and flaws, but encourages change; it highlights my successes, but motivates me to become better.
I had a conversation with a former student this week. To protect the student's identity, I will call him Dylan. He was on his way to sign up for classes are our local college. Prior to registration, he had to take a test which placed him in remedial classes. These results insinuated that he was not "college and career ready." He was not pleased, and neither was his mother.
He asked me, "I graduated from high school, why am I not in college level classes?"
To me this seemed like a logical question. Because I know this student quite well, I know his work ethic is not the strongest. I also know his lack of effort brought him to where he is now. But this conversation also left me with many unanswered questions.
Who is to blame for this? I would like to say it is all his, but I don't think the blame solely lies on him.
Are the parents to blame? Did they push him to do his best? Did they let him take the easy way out because it would be easier than fighting him?
Is the school to blame? Can a student go four years to high school and not have any red flags surface? Should teachers be obligated to contact the parents and say, "Hey, I don't think your child is giving his best." Or, "I am worried your child may not be college or career ready."
Is our testing environment to blame? Are we starting to see the damaging effects on the students in the "testing generation?" Did he just say I have had enough testing, and I don't care any more?
Are colleges and universities to blame? Are students being forced to take remedial classes so that colleges can make more money by requiring students to take more classes?
I don't know the answers, but I do know this experience has given me something to think about. I now have a different view about the students who will be sitting in my classroom this August. I know I will have many "Dylans" looking at me, waiting for me to help them as they start their middle school years. They may only be 6th graders, but this is the beginning. I have a huge responsibility.
The next few weeks I will be asking myself many questions, reflecting on changes I need to make in order to help my students think about being college and career ready.
Maybe my first question should be, just what is college and career ready?