As the holiday season winds down, a certain part of it has got me thinking about our students. The dasys after Christmas have been known as one of the busiest times for returning items that aren’t wanted during the year. Lines are long, people are in a hurry, and people just want something else that is ideal for them in return of their original gift. It makes me think of the following:
The wrapping paper is dramatically ripped off the present….the box is torn open….What is it??...It turns out it’s not quite what you wanted but you say with a smile, “I love it, thank you.” You end up taking it home and the next day you are in the store returning it for something you really want and like. A similar scenario might go like this…the paper is ripped off…you’re trying to hold back the excitement of the unknown…you open the box and before you have a chance to say anything…the giver of the gift says, “If you don’t like it, I have a gift receipt in the box”. We have all seen or heard of these scenarios before….now just imagine if those gifts were our students. In education, there are no “return policies” for our students. We have to work with every kid that comes through our front door to the best of our ability, every single day.
An example of a return policy for a retail superstore that tightened its return policy for computers (including tablets, netbooks, and eReaders), cameras and other electronics such as game consoles and GPS units, which now must be returned in 30 days. Opened items may not get a refund or an exchange at all. In education, we don’t get a choice to make a decision if we want to work with a student or not. We shouldn’t have a choice to say, “Nope, I don’t want this one.” Or, “Let me work with this student for 5 - 30 days and I will let you know if I want to keep him/her or not.” We don’t get to look at a student like a gift and say, “It’s not the right size, color, or style.” We can’t send students back to their home and ask for another student in return that is from a different background because we think they will be more successful in our classroom or school. As educators, it is our moral responsibility to believe that no matter what background they come from, they will be successful in our school. Educating all means all. NO return policy here.
The returning of gifts also reminded me of the four different types of schools in DuFour & Eaker (2004) Whatever It Takes: How PLC’s Respond When Kids Don’t Learn. The four different schools believe all students can learn but differ in many ways.
The different schools are described as:
The Charles Darwin School believes that all students can learn…based on their ability.
· The Pontius Pilate School believes that all students can learn…if they take advantage of the opportunity provided to them.
· The Chicago Cubs Fan School believes that all students can learn…something, and we will help all students experience academic growth in a warm and nurturing environment.
· The Henry Higgins School believes that all students can learn...and we will work to help all students achieve high standards of learning.
These different types of schools can represent individual educator beliefs, a majority of the school’s beliefs, or the whole school’s belief that represents the school culture when believing in that all students can learn. When looking at these four different types of schools, the only one that doesn’t seem to have a “return policy” mentality is the Henry Higgins School. The other three schools find a reason that a student or a group of students in which they might wish they could return them for something more to their liking and more towards their perception of what an ideal student would be for them. If we are to perform our moral responsibility as educators, we have encourage everyone in our school to perform in way that represents the Henry Higgins School in that we will work with all kids to achieve high standards of learning. By doing this, we eliminate any preconceived notion or excuse to think about a “return policy” in our own school.
The students in our schools are our presents and we have to appreciate and believe in every single one of them every single day. When we unwrap the paper of a student, we should excited and appreciate the differences that they bring to our days as an educator. The student (our gift) is what we get at the start of each year. We make that gift into the most enjoyable present every single day. No “return policy” here.