This was originally posted on The Freshman Transition Network.
Years ago, my good friend and colleague, Ray Moore, attended an AVID conference in San Diego. He tells me that at the conference he heard the superintendent of San Diego City Schools state the following:
It is the responsibility of schools to give students access to the American Dream. First, we must make them believe they can have access. Then, we can give them the tools to achieve it.
This quote really impacted Ray, and I have heard him share it many times with groups of teachers around the country. If you are looking to transition your 9th graders then I would encourage you and all educators associated with your Freshman Transition Program to take this quote to heart.
Specifically, pay attention to the second sentence. First we must make them BELIEVE they can have access.
Think about your freshmen. Why do they have so many problems? Why do they have the highest rates of retention, failure, discipline, and truancy in your school? Is it because they lack brains, intelligence, or capability? No. The problem with freshmen is a believing problem.
If only our students believed the right things about: school, the future, themselves, your mission, success, the value of hard work, responsibility, failure, etc. Wow! That's a lot of believing!
There are 2 profound ideas within that line: First we must make them BELIEVE they can have access.
1. It correctly identifies the problem. Students will never be successful unless they BELIEVE properly. Once we know that how can we NOT focus on helping to solve that problem? How can we not focus on the identified problem? To ignore it would be pure foolishness. More facts and more content aren't the answer to the problem of not knowing how to believe.
2. It puts the burden of responsibility where it belongs: ON US, THE EDUCATORS. It says that WE MUST make them believe. At first glance this might sound like it's outside our area of focus. But who else other than us is going to impact their believing? If we know that them believing the right thing would lead to them finding success in our classroom, then how can we not spend time in our classroom teaching them how to believe. We MUST do it because we are the only ones who can and because it MUST be done.
Sound like a daunting task? Check out The Inspirational Corner on this network for ideas and suggestions. Once there, feel free to share some of your own ideas with the rest of us.