A Little Less Underestimation

I had a friend tell me recently about her son’s experience playing baseball. He’s in 8th grade and is always put in the outfield to play. Now, I’m not a big baseball person, and I realize that someone does have to play the outfield, but my friend was explaining to me how her son never gets a chance at any infield positions he’s interested in. She classifies her son as “testosterone challenged”. This is always said jokingly but his physical attributes aren’t yet where a lot of other boys are on the team. She knows he’ll get there. The kid is a great athlete and has the skills, but is often overlooked by the coach based on his physical stature.

This bummed me out because the kid has so much passion for the game and loves every minute of it. I know he’ll continue to play and love every minute of it. It just makes me ask the question, “Why are we so quick to underestimate students on a quick glance?” Have we become so hungry for success and prestige and awards that everyone else gets swept under the rug? Sad.

Do you ever remember a time when you did that in your classroom? Or if you’re in a position like me where you deliver a lot of professional development sessions, have you ever underestimated a fellow teacher’s ability to infuse technology? I have. On both accounts. I was quick to give up on them. I’m glad I was snapped out of that mindset early on. It’s a challenge I welcome now, no matter whether it’s a student or a teacher. We should always welcome these challenges. It’s part of what makes teaching awesome right?

Have you ever heard anything like this? “Oh that kid is one big behavior problem. Don’t expect much from him.” ” You’ll never get that teacher to get onboard with tech integration so don’t give her/him too much of your time.”

Challenges? Yes. Immovable mountains? While it can feel like it sometimes this usually is not. Did we get in education because it’s a cake walk? Nope. Face the challenges and stop being so quick to underestimate ability. Desire and passion can squash any obstacle. It’s our job to recognize each student’s abilities, interests, and passions and ignite the fire within our students that will hopefully never burn out. To love learning, to desire for more, to never settle for mediocrity. Think about what a student could be missing out on or how one small moment could shape the rest of their education career if not their entire life (by underestimating and accepting mediocrity). It made me go find this Einstein quote that I have always enjoyed:

“I never teach my pupils; I only attempt to provide the conditions in which they can learn.” ~ Albert Einstein

So how about we provide the conditions? Get our students what they need to learn during the regular school day and outside the regular school day. I’m sure many of you have seen this movie or at least heard the story of Ron Clark. I leave you with a short clip from the movie about Ron Clark’s journey teaching a classroom of students in Harlem that everyone else, including the administration, parents, and community had underestimated for far too long. If you haven’t seen this movie. Go watch it. It’s a good one. Thanks for reading.
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