They can win.

I’ve known since I met them that my students come from households characterized by chaos. I know that many of them are involved in gang activity in their neighborhoods. In fact, the idea that they can come to school in the midst of that and still concentrate amazes me.


Anyway, I’ve noticed something. Because I work with a very difficult population, my classes are smaller. Sometimes I may even have one student in a class.

One on one, these students are like any other kids in any other school. They are usually pretty friendly and cooperative. However, as soon as they get out in that hallway, they are cussing and going back and forth with their peers. Today, I had to prevent two students from fighting each other who are usually pretty tame by themselves.

I want to hypothesize that this is all just a survival tactic. These kids know that if they don’t act tough and use their fists every once in a while, they’ll be eaten up by their chaotic world.

If we could convince students that they don’t need to act tough – that maybe being responsible and respectful in school will ultimately bring them the success they want – than a lot of our behavior problems would be solved. But that is easier said than done.

I propose that we as educators focus on developing meaningful relationships with our students.

I propose that we as educators focus on developing meaningful relationships with our students. The axiom, “rules without relationships builds rebellion” has never held truer than in urban education. If kids can see us setting an example and believing in them, they may just see that they can do it. They can win.

What do you think?

Where do these aggressive tendencies come from? What experiences have you had with this?


3 thoughts on “They can win.

  1. Great read! I wish you all the luck with your students.

    I think that teachers should indeed learn from their students. Students have a lot of different perspectives, some that were not present in earlier generations, that offer a lot of insight into the child. If there is a reciprocal learning experience between teacher and student, I feel that kids would feel more respected and able to trust teachers on what they say.

    I can say from my own experiences in grade school that some teachers did not give me encouragement when I needed it most. I often felt stupid, and unintelligent when I felt that I was just being creative. It would be great to see some improvement in uplifting kids to their full potential (wherever that may be).

    Sorry for the long post, but your writing inspired me to think about these education topics. My name is Keith and I’m studying neurobiology at UC Irvine. I am currently working with a homeless student as a tutor and would LOVE to hear any tips you may have. Thanks for your great blog đŸ™‚

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