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Posts: 122
Reply with quote  #1 
On page 197 (chapter 5, section 5), Tough  suggests young people "...did not get onto that [future success] ladder alone. They are there only because someone helped them take the first step."

Based on Tough's suggestions in this book, what is one thing you and your school can do to help some of your students take that first step? (This can be something in your classroom or something school/district wide.)

Maggie Susong
ATPE Member Engagement Coordinator

Posts: 19
Reply with quote  #2 
I wonder if it would be helpful to lesson a student's guarantee of passing a class or grade. In the middle school and high schools I have taught, it was unusual for a student to fail and have to repeat a grade. Unless a student was excessively absent, most students passed to the next grade some without having mastered the grade's material. Occasionally, parents put pressure on principals to pass their child, with out without mastery. In some cases, a parent/guardian did not stand up and express concern about his or her child's failing grades. It was assumed that a student would advance.

Practically speaking, students are grouped by age and advance through school together. This makes sense socially. It would be difficult to develop yet more tracks for high school seniors: 12th college graduation plan, standard plan, year-behind plan, 2 years-behind plan, etc. But I wonder if it students to receive a high school degree, whether or not they earned it.

Tamra M.
M/S H/S Math Teacher

Posts: 65
Reply with quote  #3 
As a preschool teacher within a church preschool, I feel like I'm not as instrumental in this area as high school/middle school teachers, etc. When I look back upon my own education, it was my older grade teachers that were pivotal in setting me up for long-term educational success and collegiate success.

However, I do feel like one of the most important things that I can do as a preschool teacher is develop an early love for learning and literacy with my class. I try to make school and learning out to be a FUN thing, so that they are excited about going to school. Hopefully this excitement will stay with them from year to year. Like I mentioned, I also try to build some educational foundations for them that will help them to feel confident and knowledgeable when they get to kindergarten. And, as an educator or parent, I think reading to students is one of the BEST things you can do! The love of reading and the knowledge of how to read are fundamental to learning.

I do wonder, however, if maybe doing intentional "readiness" testing for kindergarten would be helpful with some of those kiddos that might do better staying back a year. Perhaps that it is something that would help some of the students who start off struggling from the very beginning and seem to stay behind to get a better start. We do, however, offer individualized and targeted small group instruction for these students who are already struggling at the pre-k level, which I think is beneficial.

Posts: 42
Reply with quote  #4 
On page 197 (chapter 5, section 5), Tough  suggests young people "...did not get onto that [future success] ladder alone. They are there only because someone helped them take the first step."

Based on Tough's suggestions in this book, what is one thing you and your school can do to help some of your students take that first step? (This can be something in your classroom or something school/district wide.)

This week I noticed a "shout out" by one of our districts elementary teachers asking for donations of anything from Texas Tech University.  It seems her school has adopted Tech as the university they are going to market throughout the school year.  I do believe that the thirst for furthering education - just asking the question "which college are you going to?"  rather than "are you going to college?" makes a HUGE difference.  Many of our students are not being asked this question.  It seems like it doesn't plant the seed that many of us need.  My school has a college t-shirt day- where the teachers and staff where college t-shirts once a week.  This spurs many questions from students.  Also, I decorate my room with college license plates - most of which campuses I've visited.  My personal knowledge of what various schools have to offer seems to help too.

Again, I don't know if I agree that college is for everyone - only 26% of our nation has a bachlors degree.  But, I feel to be successful, some form of higher level education needs to take place - whether it be the military, a technical school, junior college, etc.  Even McDonalds has a McDonald's University!

Jennifer Goedken

Posts: 32
Reply with quote  #5 
One thing Tough mentioned several pages before the end of the book was Teach for America.  This program taps young, fresh out of college, graduates who are filled with enthusiasm and a passion for helping young people learn.  I don't know if it is still a viable program, but it should be.  I would like to see if our school district could tap into this source for teachers who would be willing to work in our district for a year or more.  Their willingness to put in long hours and extra effort in tutoring would be invaluable.  Since the program is not setting an expectation for these college students to teach as a lifelong career, they would be less likely to burn out, knowing there is an end in sight.  One truly inspirational teacher can change the way an otherwise at risk student feels about school and the future of his/her education.
Rita Wilcox

Posts: 13
Reply with quote  #6 
In this book, "future success" is not defined by a child's ability to reach a certain level of education, income, or social standing as an adult.  It is defined as a child's ability to "develop a ... set of qualities ... that includes persistence, self-control, curiosity, conscientiousness, grit, and self-confidence" (pg. xv) that will enable the child to acquire certain psychological traits such as "an inclination to persist at a boring and often unrewarding task; the ability to delay gratification; the tendency to follow through on a plan [which are valuable] in college, in the workplace, and in life " (pg. xix).  This definition of future success is contingent upon the adults in the child's environment who help them take that first step up the ladder of life.  Are they nurturing?  Are they positive role models?  Are they "parenting"?  Are they inspiring?  Are they present? 

It is a sad fact that some of our middle school students have not been able to take that first step before they come to us.  And even sadder, that some are not able to take it before they leave our campus for high school.  One of the benefits of our public school campus is the implementation and constant reinforcement of the Learner Profiles associated with our International Baccalaureate program.  The profiles are:  caring, balanced, communicator, open-minded, risk-taker, inquirer, thinker, reflective, knowledgeable, and principled.  Not only are our students learning their A, B, C's and their 1, 2, 3's, they are learning their "You's and Me's" which help them become a well-rounded individual who thinks on a global level.  They learn they have the power to make great changes within themselves and the world.  

Another program, Capturing Kids' Hearts, is very effective at letting students know they are cared about, loved, and nurtured by their school.  This approach involves the students creating a social contract for expected classroom behavior.  The students create the contract as a class, take ownership of their behavior, and even monitor each other.  The main focus of this program is respect, which in turn creates a positive classroom environment. 

Posts: 61
Reply with quote  #7 
For most of my students, that first step is learning how to act in an office environment.  They don't get grades and I can't offer modifications to the curriculum.  There are certain skills that they will need to possess in order to get a good job and keep it. When they graduate from our program, I am responsible (accountable) for having prepared them for gainful employment.  Some of the skills are specific, such as certification for Microsoft programs and 50 wpm typing, but the tougher ones are proper behavior.  We have a motto: "Model, Mentor, Monitor".  Although I've always followed it, after reading Tough's book, I realize how important it is to focus on each individual student so that their behavior matches the requirements of their future employment.  If they choose to attend college to further their education, they will need the self-control and discipline that most of them did not have when they entered our program.

Posts: 27
Reply with quote  #8 

Someone once said that “No matter how busy you are, you must take time to make the other person feel important.”

Teachers can be so caught up trying to meet deadlines along with a lot of other tasks that we sometimes simply forget to spend time with our students. It is important to just spend time trying to get to know students on an individual basis. Not every child are the same, understand things at the same pace, share the same learning style or sadly have anyone to talk to. The reality is that sometimes the only time some children are around anyone that care to make a difference in that child’s life is at school.

Spending time with students can make a lasting impression on students and make them want to become successful in their own lives. I try to insert myself in the lives of my students so that they know they can talk to me about anything and that I have their best interests at heart. It is not that I want to be nosy I just want to make sure that their basic needs are being met and constantly impress upon them that I want them to be not only academically successful but successes throughout their lives.

Simply spending time can help students take that first step onto the ladder of success. 


Posts: 57
Reply with quote  #9 
As an elementary teacher in special education I believe that one thing we as teachers can do to help students take that first step to success is give them confidence in their abilities, teach them self control and social manners. As a special education teacher I deal a lot with students who have "learned helplessness" and don't believe they can do as much as they are able. Therefore most of my job is convincing them otherwise. It is also important to teach children self control and how to control themselves. I do this with social stories and reminder charts with rewards. Social skills is always important so children can be in society, have friends, and later hold a job or attend college. 

Posts: 95
Reply with quote  #10 
On page 197 (chapter 5, section 5), Tough  suggests young people "...did not get onto that [future success] ladder alone. They are there only because someone helped them take the first step."

Based on Tough's suggestions in this book, what is one thing you and your school can do to help some of your students take that first step? (This can be something in your classroom or something school/district wide.)

I teach high school.  I could definitely focus on those students who seem to be struggling because of a lack of constructive parental support.  It is something I always try to do but now I may have more insight in to what I could do to help these students.  I am trying to do my best to make class more engaging and meaningful for all students and hope that this might reach those kids that struggle with traditional sit and get instruction.  When I introduced a project that was done in my class, I found that the students who were the most engaged were those we in the past had been the most uninterested.  Many of those kids really were interested and showing the skills they had for problem solving.  Some of the kids who are good at playing school were having the most trouble making decisions on their own.  I just need to keep learning how to reach all students so they develop the drive to become self motivated life long learners who don't quit when they encounter an obstacle along the way.  Sometimes, the thing you don't know about a student, is the most important thing.  I must not assume that I understand the motivation for a student to misbehave or not do their homework.   We must really get to know our students so we can really reach them in a meaningful way.

Posts: 94
Reply with quote  #11 

One of the ways is our after school program which is funded by grant money.  It is also a summer program and students are selected by teachers to attend this 5 week long program, which concentrates on academics with lots of hands on learning, and enrichment in the form of a weekly field trip.  This past summer we took a field trip to a nearby community college where a college student took us to several departments.  She took us to the policy academy section where a former police officer and now college instructor talked to us.  Next, it was to the fire training and water rescue training program, where students got to see the buildings that are used for training.  These building are set up to have actual fires in them for practice.  They also got to see what looks like a lazy river at a water park, but is actually a simulated roaring rapids used for water rescue personnel to train in.  Next, it was off to the library and then to the school’s counseling offices.   Lastly, we ate our sack lunches at the campuses cafeteria.

Also, one day a week, our teachers wear a college t-shirt representing the college they graduated from.  Teachers also have a space decorated with their college alma mater.

The one thing I do is talk to my students about the skills they are learning now in school transfer to college.  For example, breaking down a passage that they are reading is carried across the curriculum and will also be a skill they’ll continue to use in college.  This lifelong skill help us understand the world around us through reading.


Posts: 5
Reply with quote  #12 

On page 197 the three people Tough refers to who get on the future success ladder are James, Keitha, and Kewauna.  On page 126 Tough describes the attention and focus James’ dad gave him and says James Black Sr. was intensely devoted to his son.  Keitha appears to have been blessed with a YAP mentor who let her start working in her beauty shop and gave her an inner and outer makeover.  Kewauna had less family support than James and no mentor, and on page 166 Tough remains uncertain as to how she remains determined and ignores the day to day indignities of poverty, but OneGoal seems to have given Kewauna much support. 

According to page 182 Tough believes that for children to be successful adults they need a secure, nurturing relationship with at least one parent and ideally two who can comfort, hug, talk to, and reassure them from an early age.    Since I teach 6th grade I can improve at staying in touch with my students when they’re in 7th and 8th grade.  Another thing I can do as an educator is to make certain that my school doesn’t have a WINGS class like Kewauna went to when she was in 6th grade.  Like most schools we have ISS (in school suspension) and I will be more diligent about working with my students assigned to ISS and not just leaving their work for them. 


Posts: 98
Reply with quote  #13 
I think it's important for teachers to give their students a safe, nurturing, supportive learning environment.   This will make students feel more at ease and thus be able to be more successful.  If a student does not have actively involved parents, having a teacher genuinely interested in them can make all the difference.

Posts: 63
Reply with quote  #14 

I substitute at elementary schools and sometimes middle schools. The idea of a higher education is very much in focus at the schools I have substituted at.  I have seen and participated in college t-shirt day. One school required the teachers to decorate their doors according to the college they went to for the first six weeks. Another school had the teachers put the name of the college they went to above their name next to their door. I know some teachers that framed their degree and hung it up in the room.  Just putting an idea in a young child’s head could go a long way. 


Posts: 27
Reply with quote  #15 
We are implementing "WHIM" which stands for "work ethic", "humility", "integrity", and "maturity". All of which include the same character traits that Tough discussed in the book. This is our second year and teachers are starting to learn to unify in how everyone can be consistent in giving recognition to students using the terminology such as grit, perseverance, well as when a student is not demonstrating one of the traits and how that can be reconciled. We also give rewards to students selected by teachers once a month demonstrating that trait of the month. 
Sherry Ayres
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