When I taught middle school, I remember the moment that one of my students angrily walked back to my classroom after a meeting with his counselor. He was upset because she asked him, as an 8th grader, what he wanted to be when he graduated high school. He responded that he wanted to be a doctor. It was his dream. That dream ended with that conversation because her response was that it would be impossible because his science grades were too low. He needed to think of something else. To be clear, she was referring to his middle school science grades. After all that we had been through to build up his belief in himself, her one statement sent us right back to square one.
You can call it an “inference” but let’s be real. It was an assumption. This was a kid who struggled to find his way in classrooms that were un-accepting and un-inviting. In one moment, all that we worked toward was in essence undone. It would take three more years before this kid was back to seeing his own potential.
A potential dream became less real…
In all the years that I have trained teachers, nothing infuriates me more than hearing…
“My kids can’t do that.”
I mean, did you even try? Do you have a magic elevator connected to their brains that tells you that they cannot? Let’s add to this the SPED teacher that says, “My kids can’t do that. They are special ed kids.” Really??? To be clear, these were high performing kids with autism and all that we were learning was how to create a video.
Dear teacher, before assuming what your kids cannot do, let’s take a moment and think of all the things that they CAN do. Think of the things that they do that freak you out because you don’t know how to do them yourself. Now…pause, breathe, step away from the “halt” button and learn from the same kids whose barrier YOU have built. Don’t let your fears keep students locked in the cave that you insist on living in. Don’t let your assumptions become their barrier to greatness.
While the adults that plan the learning are debating on whether or not kids are capable, the ones with opportunity are creating their own learning outside of the restrictive classroom that many of them have because kids with access know that the world is theirs for the taking. What they want to pursue, they can and a teacher isn’t necessarily needed to get them there…especially one who bases learning decisions on assumptions.
When we stop committing these acts of “assumicide”, these same beliefs can be felt by the kids who are too often marginalized.
This kids with zero opportunity because we give them zero access to it…
That is the problem with assumptions.