"In this country, students will be judged on their product regardless of the process they utilized to achieve It." - Lisa Delpit
This, might possibly, be the best sentence I have read in the last 20 years in reference to education in America. For far too long, the trend in our society has been to mollycoddle, to nurse, and cater to our students. The current group of learners has matured in an age where everyone gets a trophy, where your personal choices and actions are valued equally right or wrong, where if you get a grade you don't like, have mommy and daddy go yell at your teacher and change it, and where discipline is mostly served with a timeout chair and a blanky.
While reading this article, I felt consistently reminded of my experiences as a basketball coach. On the court, I am always giving purposeful, connected feedback (positive and negative) to my players. Behaviors have consequences in practice, i.e.- if you don’t hustle after a loose ball, we, as a team line up and run, if you make a free throw, you can save your team from the same sprint. My players respect me because I have earned the right to tell them when they make a mistake. My expertise is in an area where they are desperate to show growth and their own ability, and we are always judged by the final product. On the practice floor, we work to gain proficiency, and our games are a public, quantifiable way to measure that. I have to constantly prove my ability in order to keep the team working forward, and they each have to constantly prove their commitment to justify playing time.
This is not so different from what Delpit is saying about how teachers need to prove their ability in the classroom to earn the respect of working-class or African-American students. I would suggest that this approach benefits ALL students. Knowing what is expected and valued in a society benefits ALL its members, not just the ones seen as having obstacles.
When we create and maintain a "culture of power" that is based on middle-upper class, racially biased ideals, we are doing a disservice to everyone. Some of the best practices described in this article apply to all students. I am currently in the process of becoming certified in the SIOP model (Sheltered Instructional Observation Protocol), which is intended to address the challenges of English Language Learners. Its best practices are recommended for all students, not just ELL's, here is a link: SIOP info
We respect our students as experts in their own lives when we allow them multiple opportunities to apply language in informal and formal settings, and teach them the rules and the differences. I have found some of the best results as a teacher come when we help a student figure out what needs improvement in their academics, either through conferencing or with a class assignment that has connected value. Stand-alone practice is seen as busywork. In summary, I think Delpit’s article suggest we expect all our teachers to earn the respect of their students, while at the same time, allowing them to earn the same respect, the process should be constant. If we expected this kind of behavior from all teachers, it would be beneficial to all students without costing any students.