Thursday, May 5, 2011

It's Not You, It's Me

One of my favorite scenes from my long love affair with the great show Seinfeld is a conversation between George and his girlfriend. The line being used in this conversation is, “it’s not you, it’s me.” Obviously, George and his girlfriend are using this time tested line to justify a breakup. However, I think this classic line has a real place in a classroom.

When students are misbehaving, off task, not doing work, or otherwise acting “bad”, we often blame the student. We reprimand them, write detention slips, claim a learning disability, and a whole host of other things aimed at “fixing” the student. I think instead of looking at the student, we might need to look at ourselves and our practice.
“It’s not you, it’s me.”
This should be our initial response to such issues in the classroom. If a student is off task or misbehaving, are we challenging and engaging them with worthwhile activities? Is our instruction tailored to their needs or are we trying a one size fit all approach? When a student is being lazy and not doing their class work, are we looking at the work we are assigning them? Is it high quality and connected to the student’s needs and interests? Are we giving student’s choice and control in their learning or simply telling them what and how to learn?

While this may seem so simple, how often are we looking at our own practice before trying to “fix” a student? Too often it is easier to look at a child’s perceived shortcomings when in fact the truth is, “It’s not you, it’s me.”
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