Teachers Involvement with Students
In an age of changing times, there are many things going on in a young adult’s life. For teenagers high school may not always be the first priority and with good reason. There are many other things one may need to worry about: family, work, and just day to day life. While they may not want to share, this may hinder their school work dramatically. Their teachers, if uninformed, could make decisions that obstruct the students learning or make their learning environment tense. Teachers should be more positively involved and informed of the students’ life outside of school for the sake of progress.
To begin, students have the ability to accelerate more when they allow their teachers to take part. Life can be overwhelming and the weight of the world can seem to be too much for adolescents to bear on their own. Eva, from Freedom Writers, had a very hard life outside of the classroom. She started off hostile towards Mrs. Gruwell and it was not until after Eva had to testify against “one of her own” that she opened up to Mrs. G. Once she began to open up, she began getting along with more people and even stayed after school in the classroom to do her homework. (Freedom Writers). Without the compassion and approachability of Mrs. G, Eva may not have succeeded or even lived. She had to open up about a shooting she witnessed and instead of smothering her, Mrs. G was present when needed and hidden when she was not. Eva may not have known about the great support system she was provided in that classroom and could have gone down the wrong path if it was not for the support of her teacher. It seems that when a teacher impacts one student, the have an impact on many. Much like at Woodrow Wilson High School in Freedom Writers, Thomas Friedman, and fellow students at his high school, were drawn to one teacher in particular. Their journalism teacher, Hattie Steinberg, was able to create what was explained as prodigies. Friedman even went on to say “I have never needed, or taken, another course in journalism since” (Friedman 10). Ms. Steinberg was able to really motivate their students just by her existence. It was quite clear the objective was the please her. Her students are right, though; there is a satisfaction that comes with pleasing a teacher you respect. To be able to delight an elder is a reason to accelerate and try ones hardest. Teachers can also have a negative impact on a student’s life, though. Mike Rose, while on the vocational track, did not have good experiences with his teachers. His gym teacher one day even asked “’Do you know what sound a bag of sh*t makes when it hits the wall?’” (Rose 163). Talking about his last name, he insulted him thoroughly. With the involvement, or lack thereof, this teacher had left Rose worse off in his vocational track. Negative teachers are not going to help students in need in any way. Because of the lack of positive involvement of a teacher in Rose’s life, he had to continue down the track for a while until someone finally realized he was there by mistake. Rose was not able to grow by means of his teachers, it took new classes for a teacher to finally be able to push him and have a positive impact on his life.
Teachers are able to help their students also when there are incentives. It is human nature to work harder when there is a reward at the end and this can be proven in the educational system time and time again. Friedman knew “after [he] took her journalism course in 10th grade, [he had to try] out for the paper, The Echo, which she supervised” (Friedman 10). Students took her course knowing full well the aspiration was to make the school paper. Students, along with Friedman, worked hard at this. Hattie instilled this sense of triumph for years to come. In this day and age, “a lot of smart people got carried away and forgot the fundamentals” (Friedman 11). He, along with an imaginable amount of his peers, knew the secret to success was the fundamentals. Even if the motivation was just to become more knowledgeable, the sense of desire was imparted in Hattie’s students for many years. Students can also gain something from self-motivation guided by a teacher. Ms. Gruwell’s students, Marcus specifically, had an insurmountable amount of motivation to get Miep Gies to come to their school. The students were so moved by her bravery during World War Two they asked her to come speak. They all wrote letters, by their own choice, and sent them off to her. They worked hard enough and she did eventually come. (Freedom Writers). The satisfaction they received from working so hard and achieving their goal could not be matched. While Ms. G simply sparked their interest, the students themselves were able to figure out a goal and a means to achieving it. The teacher is responsible, but the students made their own dreams come true. When exposed to an interest, a person can make anything possible.
In some cases, teacher’s positive involvement may not be enough for a student to succeed. There are always the possibility of circumstances the keep a student prospering and well off. At Sharpstown High School, there were a few instances where the teachers just could not help the students. The entire staff worked very hard to keep many students in school but it did not always work. More specifically, they talked about Sparkle’s educational track. Sparkle was supposed to be a junior but was considered a sophomore and she rarely bothered to come to school. After being gone for long periods of time, many adults would try to find out where she was, what she was doing, and what they could do to make it possible for her to come to school. She ended up dropping out and moving, and that was the last that was said about Sparkle. (“Dropout Nation”). It was obvious that what she needed to succeed was a good education. She knew this yet did not take advantage of the opportunities she had. The teachers cared so much about her and her success; they were always trying to push her and help her thrive. Sparkle is a real example of teachers not being able to help the student in the end, but she is one person. The good can always outweigh the bad and this cannot be too discouraging as to how other troubled students will pan out in the end.
Through my own experience I know that teachers can really change a students’ life for the better by becoming involved. Much like when Friedman is speaking about his old teacher and says “Her students were her family- only closer” (Friedman 10), I feel that Mr. Cook has created the feeling of a family in band. He is the only teacher I have had all four years but it is not just the school years I spend with him and the rest of the PSHS band; we spend about half our summers together as well. You truly become a family when some weeks you are spending more time with them at school than at home. Mr. Cook has always been there for all of his students unconditionally and has positively impacted every band student in one way. He is the shining example of how teacher involvement can really change a students’ life for the better.
All in all, when teachers have a positive impact on a student’s life, the student will have more opportunities to succeed. Every student may not be able to walk on the stage and receive a high school diploma, but the good outweighs the bad. The American school system cannot become disheartened and give up; there always needs to be a push to help as many students as possible. If a teacher does not know what the student is going through, at least to some extent, a student cannot be taught properly. More teachers and more students need to work together for the sake of the students and eventually for the sake of the nation.