If students are lucky, they will have one or two teachers a year that they will really connect with.
If teachers are lucky, they will have a handful of kids a year that they will really connect with.
(Class size is one factor.)
If you do the math, in high school at least, I see my students for less than an hour a day. (Going back to class size, this means that after a beginning of class introduction and end of class closing, I could talk to each student for about one minute a day - but wait - I have to teach stuff too, so that's not actually how a teacher's life goes.) How could I have naively believed that education could defeat every other sucky thing going on in a kid's life? Yes, students spend 7 hours a day in school and yes, that's a lot of time. But where are students for the other 17 hours of the day? Yes, many students spend an additional 2 or 3 hours in extracurriculars, but still, where are they for the other 14 hours of the day? It's arithmetic. We simply cannot expect to win over the majority of kids who have unpleasant things going on the other ~2/3 of the day.
Yes, we can be the difference for some students. But we cannot for the others. It is just impossible. And it sucks, but that doesn't change the situation.
The biggest difference maker, I think, now having taught for 4.5 years, is having parents that want to have you and raise you the best they can. So don't have kids if you don't want a
Because then we all pay the price.