Good Intentions Are Not Enough

Dr. Foss: What are you in for?

Veteran Teacher (aka me): I think I messed up.

Dr. Foss: You did. Now what?

Part I: Excuses are like… well, you know.

I have a confession.

For too many years I allowed my white privilege and implicit biases to infiltrate my classroom and impact my students. Yes, my intentions were good and no, I didn’t know any better, but neither of those excuses will cut it.

You see, I thought I was doing the right thing. I thought I was giving every student “what they needed”, when in reality I was making assumptions that led to low expectations and sent harmful messages to the students I claimed to care about. I believed that I was differentiating and that students would benefit from these accommodations. Little did I know that my students knew better, they had learned the rules to a game that I didn’t even realize existed.

Looking back, I believe that many of my students knew I expected less of them so that is what they gave me. They knew I would make excuses for them so they responded accordingly. Even though it was not my intention, and even though I was blissfully unaware, they got the message loud and clear.

Selfishly, I have thought about reaching out to these students. Finding them on Social Media and apologizing, even if it meant creating a TikTok account. Thankfully, I have learned some lessons along the way and I know better.  What would apologizing do, make me feel better? Oh how very white of me. They deserve better than that. They deserve more than I was ready or able to give them, they deserve everything, and they are definitely not responsible for mending my broken ego. Good intentions are no excuse for inequity.

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