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I am currently finishing up

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I am currently finishing up my Masters in education and everything I personally know and experience is supported by your article. In classes we are continually talking about the changing demographics of today's classroom and the need for highly qualified teachers in "at- risk" schools. However, out of all the requirements and fieldwork we are only required in one class to visit an urban school, the nearest being over an hour away.
I feel it is not only an injustice to us as future teachers but to our future students as the majority of us will be placed in urban environments without the background knowledge of what these students go through on a daily basis or how to help them. It's not that I don't love my university or my program, because I do, but I feel that the state requirements for educating new teachers needs to fit with the emotional needs of the students in a classroom instead of just the professional ones.

30+ years veteran, teach low-income students, mostly Hispanic.PhD. in C&I.

Ah, a fine balance it is:

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Ah, a fine balance it is: "caring" for students is an important investment in their well-being, but it must work in concert with rigor and high expectations in school. It seems to me that we may be teaching a generation of kids that trying is enough, that a high school diploma and a few semesters of college is enough, that success in life is a birthright, and that the slogan of "All Children Can Learn" is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Only if! My experience has revealed that there are two kinds of teachers among my cohorts: the "care-ers" who see a glass half-full and the "rigor-firsters" who see the glass half-empty. I am full of cliches today, so I conclude with the words, "There has to be a better way."

Social and Emotional Learning Teacher and Instructional Coach, Austin Tx

SEL for at risk students.

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Professor Elias is right on point with his comments regarding the need for SEL with urban students. I work with inner city low SES freshmen and have seen the dramatic impact of SEL in my freshman seminar course. I have also found the most critical part of my work is demonstrating care for my students.
"Students don't care how much you know until they know how much you care"
Finally his third point about discontinuity is also very important. Many of my students are dealing with dramatic circumstances at home. Some have issues with attendance, however our freshman course seems to have improved attendance. The added discontinuity is from lack of completed work. Many students are allowed to opt out of work. If they do not complete the work on time many teachers do not allow late work or cut it off after a few days. This gives both the teacher and the student an out from that assignment. The student missed the content and the teacher did not have to grade the late work. The student then suffers because much of the work builds on itself and they have missed a key "rung in the ladder". The added effect of a zero in the grade book and possibly little chance of recovery and you have an un motivated and not caught up student.

Encouraging People who WANT to Work with At-Risk Learners

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I think a big game changer will be (if it ever happens) when faculties of education specifically recruit students who have a genuine interest in teaching at-risk youth. Not a stream that would serve as a back door entry to obtaining a B.Ed., but a group of strong students who have a calling to meet the needs of at-risk learners.

This comes from the experience of someone who actively studied at-risk youth literature as a B.Ed. student and sought placements in inner city schools. I can't tell you the number of soon-to-be teachers who questioned why I would want to work with "THOSE kids" when I could be teaching at the more prestigious schools to "kids who want to be there".

Once we place on a pedestal the job of teaching our most vulnerable, only then can we hope to make the inroads necessary to really change lives.

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