My High School Life Lesson

Describe something you learned in high school.

Whew!!! Where should I start? 😳 Well, I hated high school for many reasons including my mother who loved saying “No” to the teachers who only focused on the kids they thought wouldn’t graduate. The one major thing I learned is that every child, kid, teen needs guidance to keep learning.

When I look back now, as a 30 – year teacher, I realized that I was in the throes of ADHD while dealing with teachers who just accepted my above medium work. They were more focused on the kids who they thought weren’t going to graduate high school.

I was an intelligent student (late 1980s) who should’ve been held to 200+% standards above the 95% I was giving. My school was predominantly Black with teachers who were predominantly white. I’m am certain that had an impact (except for my one favorite teacher) because they thought they were doing well. My teachers thought I could learn and succeed on autopilot. My parents also thought the same thing. Their mantra—“If the teacher didn’t call us, you’re good.”

As a teacher I get trying to meet the needs of your struggling students. However you also need to meet the educational needs of your middle and high students. We are supposed to do right by all of our students to the best of our ability. I was intelligent, could look busy, and bang out an essay during periods 1-8 for period 9. I was told I was an excellent writer in high school. I was told I was at the top of the class… If I was at another more affluent school, I would’ve been in the middle.

Surprise! The teacher I had during my freshman year at college basically told me I was a shit writer, and that she couldn’t understand how I got into college. 😳 Wow! As a young Black woman and the first in my family to go to college, her words ripped a part of my soul. I even had to take a remedial English /writing class that year. {Sigh} This is when my true educational journey began.

My Learning Journey

It took awhile to retrain myself how to learn and study. I remember doing it in elementary and middle school (based on my report cards). I needed to regain my learning confidence that flew away after that professor’s comment. I’m proud to say that by the time I finished graduate school, I was where I needed to be as a learner— 4.0 average and inducted into an honor society (like I was in high school).

I also had a discussion with my father before he died. He was the one who would go to my Parent-Teacher conferences when I was in elementary school. There was one point were my mom would go. Then he decided to go again. When I got to high school I wanted to go to a private school. I realized then I needed a different environment. When I asked my parents, they said no. Years later during our conversation I brought it up, and I explained that had I gone to private school or to another school in another district, I would’ve been better prepared for college. I was blessed that my dad understood.

My experience has impacted my career as an elementary school teacher in an affluent school district. I look out for all of my students. However, I give an extra loving learning guidance to my students with ADHD (we all have to stick together), my few Black students, and my above grade level students who need that extra direction.

So what is the take away from what I learned in high school? To the parents please stay active and your child’s education. To the Black parents: you definitely need to stay active in your child’s education. Do not think you know less if you know your child. If you know your child, you know what they need, and how they learn. A quality teacher will have no problem, addressing your questions. In addition, please remember that girls can have learning and focus issues that appear throughout their years of schooling.

I was in a gifted program in elementary school. My ADHD appeared when I was about 10 years old in the late 70s based on my recollection of my difficulties (and teacher report card comments).

The student in me understands my teachers were dealing with their environment and situation at the time. As a veteran teacher, I know they could’ve done better.

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