Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Fonzie's Votech

I was talking with two students yesterday. Both started this year as full-time students. They both started out the year strong academically, but slowly lost the drive to do more than the minimum. Not only did their grades degrade over the year but, more importantly, so did the quality of their work. So I asked them why. 

"It's from hanging with the other kids. You get lazy."  Interesting. I pressed for more. 'I don't know--something changes."

So we talked about the adults. They said the teachers are different from their sending districts. Those teachers expected more from them. The votech teachers let them be lazy. 

I related my conversation to some of the teachers in the lunch room. One veteran votech teacher said, "You start out the year enthusiastic with grand plans of how you're going to reach these kids. By November, they've beaten you down, and then it's just survival."

Hmmm. It seems as if there's a culture issue here. Not the kind of culture of where your family is from. But a culture in the schools. Student culture. Teacher culture. Not a culture clash. More like a symbiotic relationship. 

And it sounds like the teacher culture lets the student culture call the shots. 

Administration is fond of saying "this is not Fonzie's Votech." I agree. Fonzie could fix a jukebox by hitting it on the side just so. Our kids can't do that. 

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