I have spent my entire life either at theschoolhouse, on the way to the schoolhouse, or talking about what happens inthe schoolhouse. Both my parents were educators, my maternal grandparents wereeducators, and for the past 40 years, I've done the same thing.
And so, needless to say, over those years I've had achance to look at education reform from a lot of perspectives. Some of thosereforms have been good. Some of them have been not so good.
And we know why kids drop out. We know why kidsdon't learn. It's either poverty, low attendance, negative peer influences...We know why. But one of the things that we never discuss or we rarely discussis the value and importance of human connection. Relationships.
James Comer says that no significant learning canoccur without a significant relationship. George Washington Carver says alllearning is understanding relationships. Everyone in this room has beenaffected by a teacher or an adult.James Comer
说过没有强有力的联系，学习就不会有显著的进步。George Washington Carver（美国著名教育学家）说过学习就是理解各种关系。在座的各位都曾经被一位老师或者一个成年人影响过。
For years, I have watched people teach. I havelooked at the best and I've looked at some of the worst.
A colleague said to me one time, "They don'tpay me to like the kids. They pay me to teach a lesson. The kids should learnit. I should teach it, they should learn it, Case closed."
” Well, I said to her, "You know, kids don'tlearn from people they don't like."
She said, "That's just a bunch of hooey."
And I said to her, "Well, your year is going tobe long and arduous, dear."
Needless to say, it was. Some people think that youcan either have it in you to build a relationship, or you don't. I thinkStephen Covey had the right idea. He said you ought to just throw in a fewsimple things, like seeking first to understand, as opposed to beingunderstood.
Simple things, like apologizing. You ever thoughtabout that? Tell a kid you're sorry, they're in shock. I taught a lesson onceon ratios.
I'm not real good with math, but I was working onit.And I got back and looked at that teacher edition. I'd taught the wholelesson wrong. So I came back to class the next day and I said, "Look,guys, I need to apologize. I taught the whole lesson wrong. I'm so sorry."
They said, "That's okay, Ms. Pierson. You wereso excited, we just let you go." I have had classes that were so low, soacademically deficient, that I cried.
他们说，“没关系，Pierson老师。 你当时教得非常投入，我们就让你继续了。” 我曾经教过程度非常低的班级，学术素养差到我都哭了。
I wondered, "How am I going to take this group,in nine months, from where they are to where they need to be? And it wasdifficult, it was awfully hard. How do I raise the self-esteem of a child andhis academic achievement at the same time?
One year I came up with a bright idea. I told all mystudents, "You were chosen to be in my class because I am the best teacherand you are the best students, they put us all together so we could showeverybody else how to do it."
One of the students said, "Really?" Isaid, "Really. We have to show the other classes how to do it, so when wewalk down the hall, people will notice us, so you can't make noise. You justhave to strut."
And I gave them a saying to say: "I amsomebody. I was somebody when I came. I'll be a better somebody when I leave. Iam powerful, and I am strong. I deserve the education that I get here. I havethings to do, people to impress, and places to go."
And they said, "Yeah!" You say it longenough, it starts to be a part of you. I gave a quiz, 20 questions. A studentmissed 18. I put a "+2" on his paper and a big smiley face.
He said, "Ms. Pierson, is this an F?"
”I said, "Yes."
”He said, "Then why'd you put a smileyface?"
I said, "Because you're on a roll. You got tworight. You didn't miss them all."
I said, "And when we review this, won't you dobetter?"
He said, "Yes, ma'am, I can do better."
You see, "-18" sucks all the life out ofyou. "+2" said, "I ain't all bad."
For years, I watched my mother take the time atrecess to review, go on home visits in the afternoon, buy combs and brushes andpeanut butter and crackers to put in her desk drawer for kids that needed toeat, and a washcloth and some soap for the kids who didn't smell so good.
See, it's hard to teach kids who stink. And kids canbe cruel. And so she kept those things in her desk, and years later, after sheretired, I watched some of those same kids come through and say to her,
You know, Ms. Walker, you made a difference inmy life. You made it work for me. You made me feel like I was somebody, when Iknew, at the bottom, I wasn't. And I want you to just see what I'vebecome."“
And when my mama died two years ago at 92, therewere so many former students at her funeral, it brought tears to my eyes, notbecause she was gone, but because she left a legacy of relationships that couldnever disappear.
Can we stand to have more relationships? Absolutely.Will you like all your children? Of course not. And you know your toughest kidsare never absent. Never. You won't like them all, and the tough ones show upfor a reason.
It's the connection. It's the relationships. Soteachers become great actors and great actresses, and we come to work when wedon't feel like it, and we're listening to policy that doesn't make sense, andwe teach anyway.
We teach anyway, because that's what we do. Teachingand learning should bring joy. How powerful would our world be if we had kidswho were not afraid to take risks, who were not afraid to think, and who had achampion?
Every child deserves a champion, an adult who willnever give up on them, who understands the power of connection, and insiststhat they become the best that they can possibly be.
Is this job tough? You betcha. Oh God, you betcha.But it is not impossible. We can do this. We're educators. We're born to make adifference. Thank you so much.