They Should Know Better…

They should know better than to:
Talk out of turn,
Argue with each other,
Ignore the rules,
Disrespect adults,
Give up quickly,
Choose so poorly,
(insert your least favorite student behavior here)…
… but they don’t.
They don’t know better. Many students struggle to accept authority, think for themselves, or manage their own emotions. Students affected by poverty or the opioid epidemic are not getting many of the basic social-emotional skills they need. They don’t arrive at our schools with the Self-Awareness, Self-Management, Social Awareness, Relationship Skills, and Responsible Decision-making that we believe they need to be successful students and members of society (see CASEL, https://casel.org, for loads of info).
They need us, the adults at school, to teach them. Whether we teach them through a formal curriculum (such as Second Step), a classroom approach (such as Responsive Classroom), school wide expectations and celebrations (as included in PBIS), or in the “hidden curriculum” so many of us have always been sure to focus on, it is now a necessary part of many public schools to teach students how to get by in a community. Kindergarten teachers are chuckling now that the rest of us have caught up to them; they’ve been teaching the “hidden curriculum” for ever. The problem is that kids are starting school with so few of these skills mastered that it takes far more than one year to catch up. We have to teach social-emotional skills through the grades.
Many teachers start their career thinking that they will focus mostly on academic skills. People dream of teaching kids to read in first grade, divide fractions in sixth grade, or recite Shakespeare with high school juniors. When they hit reality and realize that teaching involves tons beyond the content, some teachers run with it. Other teachers start complaining that the students should know better. Well, they don’t; it is our job to teach them. When we put in the time to teach Social-Emotional skills, fractions and Shakespeare are not far behind

 

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