Academic journal article Phi Delta Kappan

Emerging Leader Sees Potential in All Students

Academic journal article Phi Delta Kappan

Emerging Leader Sees Potential in All Students

Article excerpt

Peter Sheppard doesn't like the term "at-risk students." He prefers to describe these students as having "hidden or unmet potential."

"Using the term at-risk taints the mindset of prospective teachers," said Sheppard, an assistant professor at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette who teaches prospective K-12 math teachers. "It subconsciously provides teachers with an excuse for failing students. It is not uncommon for educators to blame family income, marital status, or neighborhood affiliations for failures. Because as individual educators we can't reunite divorced or otherwise detached parents, contribute to the household income of economically disadvantaged students, or provide infrastructure to crumbling neighborhoods, we should at least provide a quality educational experience."

This view shifts responsibility for the student's academic success from the student to the educator. "When people look at a student as at-risk and the student doesn't succeed, then they weren't supposed to succeed because of non-instructional factors that have an impact on their ability to learn," he said. "I have a passion for ensuring that if nothing else goes well for a student, I think the education of that student should go well. …

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