No Child Left Behind, school reform and outreach have been major issues that have taken top priority in the world of education this year. Yet, we seem to have we forgotten the little discussed population of students – who happen to make up the majority- who actually behave appropriately at many of the at-risk schools in this country. What is really going? Why do we seem to make a concerted effort to not only take these students for granted but forget them altogether? More often than not, the students that receive the most thought and consideration are:
- Students that have the most discipline issues
- Students that need the most one-on-one instruction
- Academically or intellectually advanced students
Students who go to school, do their work to the best of their ability – especially without cheating or brown-nosing, and aren’t disruptive tend to be taken for granted. It’s taken for granted that they’ll just do what they need to do or study harder or ignore bullying. Often, in at-risk schools, this problem is magnified by higher than averag number of disruptive students who end up controlling the school. Some may say that this higher than average number of disruptive students is a valid excuse for growing discipline issues. Yet, this is far from the truth because even though the number of disruptive students are higher than average in these school, disruptive students are still a small percentage of these of the student population. So, the question that we must ask ourselves is: How can we achieve a balanced learning environment that facilitates productivity for those who are consistently on-task socially and academically as well as a more tolerant environment for learners with behavioral issues?
Many think that technology is the one-size fits all solution to improving schools. However, it is not. Indeed,without effective discipline policies and implementation of technology, technology alone will not work. Just as you can’t stick a book on your head and learn everything in it through osmosis, you also can’t expect to learn by connecting a USB cable from your brain to the computer. As we further integrate technology into our classrooms, issues such as behavior become ever more impactful because effective technology use very much requires a certain level of self-discipline from the students. It isn’t fair to students who, while maybe not perfect, are consistently on-task to have to compromise their education to accommodate those who are willfully non-compliant. In some extreme cases of poor behavior management in schools, technology access is limited because of fear of theft or damage to equipment due to wrecklessness. All learners need to be in an environment in which they can concentrate, observe their teacher’s instruction uninterrupted and freely use tools to enhance their learning. In most at-risk schools, the majority of the student population are like students most everywhere else. These students deserve to be in a healthy learning environment. I am not saying abandon students with behavior problems. However, I am saying that it is time that we also need to try to go above and beyond to students who really want to be in school.