I Just Pidgeonholed Two Children.

Seriously, that was my first thought when I got done writing the draft of my final paper.

And then my second thought was “I will say that phrase never again”

And then I typed it as the title. Sorry.

Anyways, for my final paper I am going to interview the highest achieving student in my educ350 class, and the most disruptive boy in my class. I realized when I wrote the draft, though, that me even putting these labels in front of their names was me totally pigeonholing them. I already expected for their responses to be a certain way, and thus emerged yet another thing I worry about in my future teaching career: will I label children, and then never see past the label I gave them?

Here is my paper thus far:

Why is it that some kids hate school while others love it? And as educators, what can we do? I had the phrase “Knowledge is Power” on my mind when I set out to ask two students exactly what I wanted to know: how do they think school can be better?

Before conducting the interview, I had some thoughts about what the kids would say. I believed that one student would have legitimate ideas of what things should be changed in the school, whereas the other, more difficult student would let me know how they perceived that the school was letting them down, wherein actuality it might be that the school was perfectly adequate and the child failed to recognize that it was something on their end that was creating an incongruency.
For example, Cam. Cam is one of the students I was planning on interviewing. Cam is a tough boy, one who continually acts as a distraction for the rest of the class. He does not respect authority and demands constant attention from all those around him. He is a bright, dimensional boy who exists beneath a surface of self protection and roughness. I was so interested in what this kid, who never turned anything in and spends all his time making barnyard noises, would say when I asked my questions. I was interested in if he wanted to go to college, what his parents level of education is, and what place he thinks school has in his life.
Delaney is the textbook opposite of Cam. She is well dressed, polite, and never comes in looking tired and smelling of secondhand smoke. She turns everything in on time, reads at an advanced level, and sits quiet in the middle of the classroom while kids like Cam command the teachers attention. She is well liked by all of her classmates, but doesn’t let her social life affect her effort.  She works hard and has a sweet, patient demeanor. My middle and high school experience was similar to that of Delaney, and so I imagined that her responses would be similar to what mine would be were I to be asked the questions. I imagined that she must find it wearing that the students who goof off get more attention and more leniency than the students who do the work in the first place. I expected her to not think of any other options besides college, and I expected that her parents received at least high school diplomas if not upper level education.
The questions I plan to ask are as follows:
What do they like about school? About their writing class?
What do they wish would be changed about school?
What do they wish teachers would understand about them?
What is their favorite way to show what they have learned?
What would they like to do more of in class? Less of?
Do they plan on going to college? If not, why?
If so, what are some obstacles they foresee?

I have some expectations walking into this of what they will tell me, and I sincerely hope that by hearing their answers I will be able to better understand, as a future teacher, how I can work with students that are at both ends of the spectrum.

Furthermore, I like these kids a lot. They are such dimensional, great kiddos and I only know that because of what I they have shared with me, NOT because of what grades they get.

Me being in this 350 class has been a great lesson for me. I learned that I have a tendency to label kids based on class performance, and I get frustrated with them based on this. So I know it will be very important for me, as a teacher, to get to know them as humans before I get to know them as names in a gradebook.

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