I just finished reading Restart by Gordon Korman. I am in awe of these writers that can have a zillion great books but this one really stuck out to me. Not just the premise of getting a chance to start over for a bully that loses his memory. In itself I think that is and was a great idea for a story but the idea of just starting fresh and what that could do for us I think has some great crossover into teaching in general.
I am sure I am not alone when I think of comments from students like, I am not a reader or I hate reading or I can’t play basketball I am terrible or my brain can’t do math. Kids learn limitations that are placed on them far before they learn what they can and can’t do.
As teachers we are guilty of helping these limitations take hold in our kids. We attach descriptors to behaviors, they become a number or a letter, “Mr.Gilson I am a blue dot I can’t read a red dot” “Mr.Gilson I am interested in this book but it is too high on lexile for me to try it” Who hasn’t heard that? We read files that discuss behaviors/skills and form opinions before even meeting most of our students.
When we sit down with co-workers who have taught our students previously the comments tend to be more warnings than congratulations on which students we will get the opportunity to teach. It isn’t fair to the kids and it isn’t fair to the teachers.
This year as I start at a new school I want to let it serve as a Restart. The kids don’t know me and I don’t know the kids. I want to discover their reading level by reading with them, their writing by sitting down and discussing their choices and praising the good while building on the weak areas. I want my students to know that I come to no conclusions on who they are based on a file or words from a teacher in their past. I am getting a Restart and they should to.
Working back to the story if a bully never gets a chance to show they can be something else they won’t be. If a struggling reader never gets a chance to develop a love for reading they will always struggle. Teachers need to be the one sure source that allows students a Restart as many times as they need it.
Isn’t the process of learning after all falling and getting back up again, restarting, until we get it right?