Award-winning author, educator, and administrator Anton Anthony, Ed. S has served in school districts throughout Georgia as a teacher, as a discipline coordinator, as a coach, as an assistant principal, and as a principal.
He has worked in poverty-stricken schools where the majority of the population was Title I. He has also worked in schools where parents were highly educated, high-income professionals and business owners. Each school brought its own challenges, but he was able to break through barriers and achieve academic improvement everywhere he went.
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The problem with our education system isn’t the policies or the tools or the textbooks. It’s that we’ve forgotten the primary purpose of an education and we’ve lost track of the humanity of the students.
Some of our attitudes about education haven’t advanced since the 1700’s. In some senses, we’re still doing it the same way even though we have so many more advancements in our understanding of neuroscience and how the brain works.
We really need to take a better look at what we’re doing and how we’re doing it. What we’re doing now is great for teaching factory workers to be factory workers, but as far as teaching people to be creative, to think on their feet, and to solve problems, it’s unproductive.
Technology is changing our world so quickly that factory jobs may not even exist in 20 years. It may all be done by robots.
It’s important to educate our children in such a way that they can adapt to whatever future they meet if we want our society to survive going into the future.
Love is the main thing missing from our schools. The problem with our education system isn’t the policies or the tools or the textbooks. Think about this: Everybody wants to be someone. Be that one person to every kid that walks through the door. Not just your kid, but every kid.
Recognize them as individuals instead of just numbers. That was one of the things which made me so successful in college. I was a C student in high school, but I was an A-B student in college. I didn’t go to a big university. I went to the small school of Fort Valley State University.
Our numbers in the classroom were very small. There were about 15-25 students in the classroom. But if I didn’t understand something, it was small enough to let someone know when I wasn’t getting it, and to ask for the help I needed.
I could ask them for other resources that I could go and look at that might give me a better understanding. I was successful there because I wasn’t a number. I was someone.
I care about every student that walks through my doors - not just about their test scores or their pass/fail rates. I genuinely care about them, about their future, and about what they are doing with it.
When you care - on a deep level - about the people you are working with and for, they will respond to it like a plant responds to sunlight.
This is where our system broke down and where it is failing not just our kids but everyone.
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs says that love is only important once your basic needs of food, shelter, water, and sex have been met. However, Harry Harlow’s experiments in the 50’s and 60’s with primates proved that it does not matter how much food, shelter, water, or sex you give people; if they are deprived of love they will not care about the rest and they will choose to die anyway.
If love is absent in the classroom, you can give your students absolutely everything else they need and you will still lose them. Too many students are being lost because they are being deprived of the most important thing....the love they need to thrive.
Students have to trust you before they will open up to you. The problem, and the barriers that students put up, are because they don’t trust anymore.
Teachers and administrators have to work to gain that trust by building solid relationships with every student. There are four big keys to creating those relationships: consistent expectations, showing interest, asking questions, and listening to understand.
Consistency is one of the big things that students need. The reason why students are not so successful even with behavior in class is often because the teacher and the routines are not consistent.
One day a teacher would do one thing and then the next day it would change. You have to be consistent with their learning and in the relationships that you form. Being consistent with students is what drives them to be successful.
I realized that it didn’t matter the color of
the student or what they looked like. It didn’t matter their backgrounds. I still formed relationships. I was able to form relationships because I showed interest in the student.
I can always find something to use to connect with the child and then use that connection to learn more about them. If there is something that my kids were doing outside of school that was positive, I also made sure I was the first one there. I wanted them to know I cared about them as a person, not just a number in a grade book.
I make sure I talk to my student to find out what’s going on in their lives. I ask them what they did this weekend or how their day is going or how they are. Students will tell you, especially if they trust you, if they have a bad day.
They’ll tell you, “I’m having a bad day,” or, “My class is not going so well.” Then, you can ask them why and find out all kinds of things. That gives you a chance to solve problems before they begin.
Listening To Understand
When I talk to students, I try to listen more than I talk when it relates to everything and every part of their lives. This is especially true when it comes to discipline problems. If you just would go off on that student hitting the other student, you won’t even know that the child had a reason and a background story behind hitting that other student. He was at his limits.
Those are the students that get silently picked on and then go and do something crazy. They have a story. They’ve been picked on but nobody ever listened to them. I am that listening ear for my students. Because I am listening, I also find out from them where problems are happening so I can fix them and stop that same thing from happening in the future.
When you’re in the classroom, your customer is the student. When you’re as an administrator, your customer may be the teacher, the student, the parent, or a community leader.
You need to know how to be able to identify what the major problems are that your “customer” struggles with and how your product, whether it is the education that you provide or even the students your school produces, is the solution to that problem.
You need to know what the dreams are of that “customer” and show them how what you’re providing is the best and fastest way to get from where they are to where they want to be in life.
Encouraging creativity is one of the big keys to getting students engaged in their education. One of the movements in education is to make sure students are self- directed learners, but we have to tap into that creative side to do that.
Georgia has standards and a set curriculum we want them to learn, but in every curriculum there needs to be some type of creative opportunity. Kids should be encouraged to create something that demonstrates they can apply what they’ve learned and that will allow them to express their individuality at the same time.
Teach students to look at every problem as an opportunity in disguise because if they can find a solution, they can charge people money to solve that problem for them. Help them identify their talents and then help them figure out what problem their talent can solve for somebody else.
Get them to apply the things they’re learning to building a business that solves problems for other people. This will prepare students with the right mindset to meet any problem they face in the future and help them develop problem solving skills from an early age.
Want More? Loving Education comes out November 26th! Pre-order and get YOUR copy November 17th!