If everyone is giving you a break and providing excuses for your students’ lack of growth, it is time to address those failures head on. Hold yourself accountable if you want to make a difference.
*This video contains graphic language*
Back to back Good Will Hunting videos. However, the message being pulled for this post is the opposite of the movie’s intention.
At the start of the scene Will (Matt Damon) shares that he recently broke-up with with his girlfriend, Skylar (Minnie Driver). The failed relationship is just one more setback for Will. From being an orphan to physical abuse to imprisonment, every aspect of Will’s life has been challenging.
As the disappointments and setbacks continue to plague Will, it is easy to see how he blames himself. It could not be a coincidence that all these bad things happen to one person, unless the person is at fault.
Sean (Robin Williams), recognizing Will’s guilt, attempts to remove that burden by assuring Will, “It’s not your fault.” Needing to hear those four words, Will breaks down and embraces Sean.
Will needed permission to separate himself from the circumstances that have plagued his life. And, Sean was able to do that.
When students fail, who is to blame? The parents? teachers? administration? society? Everyone points at each other. When this happens, the child loses.
“It is your fault.” Taking ownership of failure focuses you. If you know the burden will fall on your shoulders, you are more likely to do something about it. If the buck stops with you, you are willing to exhaust all avenues to grow students.
Take money as an example. If your come from money and your family finances your poor spending habits or lifestyle decisions, you are more likely to be laissez-faire with your cash. But, if you are on your own, every money decision you make is critical because there is no one to bail you out. You plan, prioritize, and review your finances to ensure that your money habits are putting you in the best position to be successful.
When students fail, if your first instinct is to blame parents, you are expecting them to bail you out. Reflect on what happened: What did you do? What could you do differently? What resources do you need to do it differently?
Removing parents as a safety net puts the pressure on you to be the best educator you can be. It takes a village to raise a child. But, there are aspects of the village that we do not control, so it does no good to focus on them.
Back against the wall with no one to blame but you, what are you going to do to ensure that all your students achieve?
Muddying the accountability waters may provide more job security or help you sleep at night, but it will not help our students. If “It is our fault” we can spend more time addressing the problem and less time pointing fingers.