Before I get today's education blog started, I want to thank everyone again for viewing my little blog. A couple of weeks ago, I read somewhere there was an estimated 50,000,000 blogs on the net. That's a lot of blogs looking for eyes. Over the weekend, I received my 500th hit. Thinking back on my original goal, I would have been tickled to have received this many hits by February (100 hits per month) To think it has happened in my first month is humbling. I hope I have accomplished my goal of making all parents who read this THINK. Agreeing or disagreeing with me isn't important. What is important is that you are thinking about being the best parent you can.
Today's education blog is focused on the cycle of prosperity. What's this? It's a term I coined in my mind to battle another notion we have all heard of which is the cycle of poverty. This is when poor uneducated parents have poor uneducated children. It may lead to some being on welfare while others may wind up in prison. The cycle of poverty is real and it is a threat to all of us. Regardless, it seems to me there is a certain point where excuses have to placed to the side and parents have to be called to act for the good of their children. In my opinion, the government/schools can only place a band-aid on the cycle. The cycle has to be changed at home.
I learned this lesson well while I taught at Portland Elementary. A lot of stereotypes I had about education (especially the money involved), the roles of teachers, and parents were completely destroyed. Without going into detail about my stereotypes; this is the place which introduced me to the cycle of prosperity.
Before I go further, let me attempt to define the cycle of prosperity:
(Part 1) The cycle of prosperity starts with an attitude that today is a new day and it is going to be a good one. It continues with going to work and taking pride in whatever the person does. If a person doesn't have a job they want; it is a determination to keep working to get a better one. Finances, though very important, only define their possessions; not who they are and not what their kids can become through hard work.
(Part 2) Because this is a cycle, these parents are modeling positive attitudes (from part 1) to their children daily. No matter their income level; they are determined for their children to have an equal or better life than what they have. They recognize education is the key to all success. Although schools are a part of education; these parents keep a "finger on the pulse" and do all they can at home.
When I was at Portland Elementary, some of my brightest kids had poorer African American parents. I didn't question why this was the case. I was happy that children were learning and having fun. Looking back on it, there was an important common thread between these smart kids. The thread was their parents. One of the mothers, for example, worked at a gas station. Although it was never directly said, it was heavily implied her child was never going to work at one. The kid was bright, attentive, and great to be around. This mom was working in the cycle of prosperity despite her circumstances. I had a lot of moms and dads who had this same attitude and their children seemed to be going in the same place---UP!
I had plenty of other parents who didn't live in this cycle of prosperity. Their kids didn't turn in homework, didn't have the needed focus in the classroom, and a few parents came to conferences seeming a bit "high" if you feel my drift. That is, if they came at all.
The parents at Portland Elementary taught me a valuable lesson about the cycle of prosperity. I hope any reader who sees this understands the importance of it. What you do as a parent directly affects your child-positively or negatively. No matter your income, you have the general tools needed to help your kids succeed and possibly accomplish more than you have ever dreamed. You alone determine whether to live in the cycle of poverty or the cycle of prosperity. The choice is yours. The good news it can be changed as soon as--NOW.
Let me leave you with a story I hope illustrates my point a bit further. I had a 1st grade child I'll call Betsy. She came from a relatively poor family and for several months was a bottom 5 student in my class. Regardless of her rank in my class, Betsy kept trying. She was attentive and a good listener. Her mother also did her part at home and never complained. In short, Betsy and her mother were involved in the cycle of prosperity.
I taught a split 1st/2nd grade which meant I had Betsy for second grade as well. By the time, Betsy left the second grade, she was one of the top students in my class. The change didn't happen overnight but it did happen. To use a basketball analogy, it would be like a team being down by 10 points in the first half and win the game by 20. One could claim I was the difference but I would dispute that. Though I worked very hard with all my students; she wasn't a "teacher's pet" in the least. Betsy was a golden example of how hard work really pays off.
I wonder if there is a "Betsy" you know. If so, give him/her all the encouragement you can. You never know if they'll turn out to be a top student.
Please join me again Wednesday for my weekly behavior blog.
All the best to your family!!!