Eight grade teacher Ariel Sacks fears that she has failed, due partly to the day-to-day pressures of teaching, to cultivate a genuinely responsive learning community in her classroom:
I succumbed to many of the ills of the factory model system of schooling over the last few months. Even though I design my curriculum to bring out the voices of my students, I've failed to address things they've said or done to one another that jeopardize our community. On the surface, I always respond to inappropriate behavior, but on the deeper level I've failed.
I've committed a great sin of teaching--being more committed to "the curriculum" than to the students. I've gotten caught up with doling out consequences--and sometimes neglecting to dole out consequences--for students who break basic rules of conduct. For minor misbehaviors that happen on a regular basis, consequences are and were never the answer.
She may have failed by her own standards, but it’s hard not to think that her students haven’t benefited greatly from her self-awareness and reflectiveness.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Blogboard blog.