How’s My Driving?

October 2, 2009 at 7:12 am Leave a comment

I almost got into a car accident yesterday.

Despite a spotless driving record, faithful adherence to the law and an almost neurotic observance to the speed limit just about wherever I go, I almost got into an accident.

After my thoughts finally moved on from “Holy crap!” to “Thank goodness no one was hurt” and “Good thing there wasn’t a cop around to see that,” it hit me: even good drivers can make bad decisions.

So what if the driver is a teenager, behind the wheel not of a car, but of their own education?

Okay, so maybe this seems like an odd analogy. But just as good drivers can make bad decisions, good students–heck, good kids–can, too. And just as drivers have a world of laws, unwritten rules, and other drivers (for better or worse) around us influencing our driving, teens have a world of curriculum, administration, and other teens (for better or worse) influencing their learning.

This is why it’s so incredibly important for us to form those personal connections with teens so that we know the difference between a misstep that’s part of a larger pattern and a momentary lapse in judgment.

If I have a student in my library who’s not supposed to be here–during directed study block without a pass, for instance–I don’t know how to react if I don’t know that kid. Is he AWOL from a class? Is she hiding from an overwhelming cafeteria?

To return to my original metaphor, I think it’s important for us to take a lesson from the best kind of small-town cop. We’re there for emergencies, sure, but we’re also there for the occasional set of keys locked in a car. And we know the people in our neighborhoods (or our libraries) well enough that when we pull someone over, we can say, “Hey, buddy, this isn’t like you. What’s going on?”

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Entry filed under: Education. Tags: , .

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