Down to the Delta

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Feb 03 2012

On wanting more…

Another blog post so soon. I know. Crazy.

So one of my students asked me today why I have been in such a bad mood lately. And why I have been so mean. After thinking about it for a while, I decided to give an honest to god put it all out there answer.

I have been in a bad mood and I have been mean because I want more for my kids than they want for themselves. All I want is for them to want more. I want them not to settle for being mediocre. I want them to walk into the principal’s office and complain every time a teacher chooses to waste valuable class time over and over again because they are just waiting for 3:15. I want their actions to reflect some sort of ambition. I want them to appreciate the teachers who have expectations for them instead of rebelling.  I want them to actively choose to have a better future than the one they are on track for right now.

So THAT is why I have been so mean recently. I want them to want everything for themselves that I want for them. I want them to change their lives.

With that in mind, I have a favor to ask from every person who reads this blog, whether or not I know you. If you are so inclined, take 5 to 10 minutes and write a paragraph about why you chose to work hard in high school. Or if you didn’t work hard in high school, why you worked hard in college. Or if you never worked hard until you got out of school, why you wish you had. I plan to present these to my students, one at a time. Even if it makes a difference to ONE kid, you will have changed a life.

My email is miriam.r.kaplan@gmail.com

Thanks in advance for helping make my classroom a better place!

 

4 Responses

  1. Miriam,

    Good plan! Imma just post here:

    In high school I didn’t have to work that hard; I was born into a stable family in a great school district with parents that read to and encouraged me. I got A’s seemingly by accident, and because I would be embarrassed if my grades were different than my sister or friend’s grades. In college I continued to get solid grades on accident, or by default– it was when I joined extracurriculars and had work commitments that I started to work hard. When I started to SEE my work impact other people, THAT’S when I started working hard. I worked hard to turn my honor’s college around and have a legitimate community where people felt encouraged and respected; I worked hard to travel and expose myself to things that would make me understand the world (Prague, Taiwan, New York, Arkansas…); I worked hard to make personal decisions regarding spirituality and morality; I worked hard to prove to people that even when someone close to you dies or someone with authority takes something away you think you deserve– you can endure. And by enduring you’re given the opportunity to prove to others that endurance is not just possible, it’s the only option to make yourself or anyone else happy.

    THE END. :)

  2. Ms. Math

    I worked hard in high school because my parents taught me from a very young age that I could do well and that they expected it. It just seemed like the obvious thing to do-I never skipped a homework assignment.

    Not very inspiring, right?

    However, these are the benefits of my hard work in high school and college. I got accepted into every single college I applied to, including Ivy Leagues, and got 18,000 dollar a year at some schools for tuition. I got to go to school with amazing, motivated people with curious passionate professors. I wasn’t stuck in giant, boring lecture classes with kids who didn’t care. College, besides being interesting because I chose my classes, was an incredible social experience where I made amazing friends(and I mean bike racing and rock climbing, not frat parties!).

    Because I tried hard in college, I got an amazing fellowship to graduate school where they give me 25,000 dollar a year plus free tuition and health care to learn and study what I want with some of the smartest educators in the country. My work is always interesting, always has the potential to be useful to the world, and I work with amazing people.

    I look at people I knew in high school who didn’t take it so seriously and I watch them posting about how they hate their meaningless job and can’t wait till Friday on facebook. They serve people they don’t care about or work on repetitive tasks that don’t make the world a better place and complain about their coworkers. Because my grades were so good, I got to choose what to do, who to work with, where to go to college and grad school, and have boundless career opportunities. No recession is ever going to eliminate jobs in math education.

    I never knew what I wanted to do until four years out of college, but I didn’t close any doors by slacking off in high school. Even before college I got an amazing job working at an art foundry creating art in bronze because the owner saw that I got awards at senior awards night and believed i would work hard. High school accomplishments can be worth something besides getting money for more school-as a high school graduate I had an awesome, interesting job working with artists that I got because someone trusted that I would work hard and be willing to learn.

  3. Nick

    Thinking back on high school I just remember it being expected of me to try hard. Whatever my grades were was irrelevant in the end as long as it was evident that I was putting forth effort. I know it was so that I could go on to college and then get a good job. Eventually I figured out what I wanted to do with my life, but until that happened I worked hard anyway because I wanted to make my parents proud of me. I wanted to get into a good school and do something with my life so that when I was old I could say that I had made a difference… that I had supported a family… that I had made and saved money so that I could live out the end of my life comfortably… that I hadn’t wasted my potential… I worked hard and I when I found something that really made me happy I had set myself up for success. I continue to work hard in college because I want to be good at my job. I also realized that once you get past the basics, everything we learn about in school can be really fun. Sure, multiplication and friction aren’t exhilarating, but when you can use math to understand how much damage will occur to two cars when they get into a crash, things get much more interesting. Learning how to read music, is tedious, but knowing how to read music opens up an entire world of possibilities. I keep working hard so that I can get something out of life. Something even beyond a job and a livelihood. I keep working hard and learning because I know it improves me with every new thing I learn.

    –I am rather scattered right now so that probably isn’t my best work, but I hope it helps.

  4. MeghanK

    I worked hard in high school because I wanted to go to college. I wanted to go to college because I had visited area colleges in elementary school and the students talked to us about what college was like. They presented college as a happy place where you could spend time with friends, be independent of your family, and create a future for yourself.

    By the way, I think it would be very helpful if you could arrange a series of field trips to area colleges, even community colleges, for your students. It really impacted my life.

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Region
Mississippi Delta
Grade
High School
Subject
Math

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