Learning As Leadership

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Oct 29 2011

Shared Vision

I would like to share with you something my students wrote. A few weeks ago we had a really bad day at school. There were so many fights at school, and a guest speaker at school told students he almost refused to come because of the horrible reputation our students have. On Friday, there were three really bad fights, and students came into last period buzzing about what had happened. It was one of those moments where you knew you could either fight it and try to teach, or just go with it. Knowing that the fight was on the kids’ minds, I went with it.

I launched a class discussion. We all sat in a circle and the rules were simple. One person speaks at a time, and we don’t talk about anyone specifically.

I asked them questions about the fight. I let them get out what happened, but then took it deeper. I asked who had been in a fight, why they fight, etc. I also asked them who had lost somebody to violence. All but two raised their hands. I asked them how far off we were from losing somebody at our school to the violence. Until that moment, my students said they never realized how the violence was escalating.

I asked them if they were proud to be known as the roughest school in St. Louis.  An overwhelming no. They were embarrassed when the guest speaker told them how bad our school’s reputation is.

I asked them if we could change our reputation and they all said no. I gave them examples of people who changed the world, and told them that if they wanted ***************** to change, they would have to be the ones to change it. I told them it could be done, but not by admins or teachers. Only by them.

They seemed really inspired. I asked them to close their eyes and picture what they wish our school could be like, and told them that is called a vision. I asked them to write down their visions. Below is what they wrote. I am BLOWN AWAY, and I think you will be too. I am mainly blown away because what students wrote is pretty much exactly what I have heard our new principal articulate as HER vision for our school, and what I articulate as MY vision for our school.

My Vision for ******************* Middle School

By A’keshia


My vision for ************** is we would be the best school in St. Louis, Missouri. Known for the smartest kids. Parents would be proud to send their kids there because of the good education and good things they get to do there. There will be no fights and violence, the school will be so good that they will put away the metal detectors and won’t have to check the students anymore. Also every student will be proficient or advanced in their work and tests. All the students who want to at ************** will go to college.

My Vision for *******************…

By Aaron

I want ************** to be a no drug school, a school were people would like to send their kids. *********** could be a school that goes on field trips every week, a school that can have special speakers like Lloyd, Trey Songz, Diggy Simmons, Lil Wayne, and Meek Millan. If *************** was like that the president himself might come, we might build us our own football field, with the (mascot) himself in the middle of the field.

My Vision for ******************* Middle School

By (name withheld) 

My vision for ********************** Middle is that it would be a non-violent school, and that everyone in St. Louis that’s in middle school would want to go here. Another vision for ******** is that everyone would do good and score advanced or higher on every test we would take. Everyone in *************** would have a good education and would know everything there is to know in middle school. *********** students would be treated as if they were adults and would be given love and motivation. Individually, everyone would have a tutor if they need one. Everyone would reach their goals as well. But also, I deserve a better education and a better school to go to than **************. I think this is because ************ is not really a school I would prefer to go to if I had a choice.

My Vision for ***************

By Shamaine

My vision for ************* is for the students that want to learn to get a better education so they can pass and go to college.

My Vision for ************* Middle School

By Anonymous

My vision for ******** is no violence. I want to be able to go to school and actually learn. I want to learn and not get distracted. Without any kids running around fighting. My vision is to go to school and everyone wants to learn.

My Vision for ********* Middle School

By Donyae

My vision for ******************** Middle School is that it would be one of the best schools in the state of Missouri. ***** Middle could have been a top school, but our school had too many fights in a year. I want to have a great education. ************** is a really great school deep down inside. People think that because of what they heard from other people that ************** is the worst in St. Louis. If everyone works together, *************** would be on top.

My Vision for ************* Middle School

By Vivica

My vision for ********** is to learn in peace. People would want to send their kids here. All the fighting, bullying, and violence would stop. Students would feel safe here. Every student would get the best education and would want to go to college. People would call our school the good school, not the bad school they wouldn’t send their children to. No, this should stop here. This isn’t a lot if everyone would take a step in and help out. ************* could be the best middle school in St. Louis if we wanted it to be. We have to want to change. School is supposed to be a safe learning environment. This could be a new school for *********** Middle School.

My Vision for ************

By Adrianna

My vision for *************** is that it would be a school that St. Louisans would be proud to send their kids to. There would be no violence or fights because students would solve their problems with words, not fists. Every student would be proficient. All students would get the love and support they need.

My Vision

By Marcus

I think we deserve an education, but other kids do violence. ************* is bad because kids smoke and cuss out the teachers. Other people get angry and cuss or hit back, and that’s what starts a fight. I think ************ can’t become a better school unless we are willing to do it.

My Vision for **************

By Anonymous

My vision for ***************** is that we do better in our work so that more kids can come to *****************.   **************** will be better if we stop fighting and gang banging. It will be better for us. It will get a lot better for us. The teachers will start planning fun stuff for us if we do better than what we did last year.

5 Responses

  1. candice coleman

    “I’m not saying i’m gonna change the world, but i gurantee that i will spark the brain that will change the world.”—Tupac. I believe you guys are the spark in the brain that will not only change your school, but the world. Sometimes it takes one small voice to make a huge impact. Together your idea of what your school could become can definitly be turned into a reality, but make sure you start today so it doesn’t become an idea stuck in the past.
    I am excited to hear the changes you and your classmates will do in the schools and city of St. Louis.

  2. Kathleen

    Absolutely inspirational. Thank you for sharing this!

  3. This is beautiful. As a high school teacher, I see firsthand how much students are shaped, academically and behaviorally, by their experiences in middle school. Keep up the good work!

  4. Violence in school doesn’t just affect a school’s reputation. What about about each and every student’s well being? By well being I mean the way a student feels, how the violence affects them personally… when you fight with someone, verbally or physically, it feels just bad inside. It is hard to accomplish much else in your day if you’re living with anger or sadness. My vision for your school is simply that you treat each and every fellow student not just with respect but with love. A kind word, a compliment can change someone’s whole day. Never be afraid to give a compliment, to put yourself out there. You can change your school by starting very small. Put your ideas into action by starting to overcome the violence with love. Don’t condone fighting; reach out to your fellow students who are struggling.

  5. Carly Rugg

    “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”
    -Mahatma Ghandi

Reply to Carly Rugg

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a Teach For America teacher’s blog

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