This quote piqued my interest when I saw it on a post recently. I’ve written about this sort of topic a couple of times before, but let me hone in on the two key words from this quote…
I want my kids to know that they are appreciated: for who they are, for what they do, for how they contribute, for their very existence as a student in my class. This is, obviously, the core of relationship.
So how do you do that?
Get to know your students in any way possible. What sports do they play? What hobbies or jobs do they like? Where do they fit in their family’s dynamics (remember, birth order impacts many parts of life)? What are their greatest struggles and fears? All of these questions will help to shape our understanding of a student as an individual.
As you get to know your students, you will find ways to appreciate them using the language and methods that work for them, individually.
But appreciation goes deeper than just knowing a student. Often it becomes and act of will. Sometimes we need to be the adult and draw from our maturity to look beyond the behaviour and character to the deeper things of life-connection; to that place of ‘appreciating because ‘and not ‘appreciating for’. ‘Appreciating because’ is about appreciation that is not driven by what a students does. It is driven by the very fact that they are a fellow human being with wants and needs; that we as teachers have been given a huge responsibility to speak into this life for a period of time.
What do you expect of your students? I fear that with the tyranny of time teachers experience daily, we can easily slip into the mode of teaching that expects a little less than we might hope so that we know there will be a level of success. The reality is that adolescents, especially, will have far more to offer than we expect. Given the right opportunities and learning environment, adolescents can and will come up with wonderfully surprising outcomes.
Projects and open learning environments and discussion forums and real life learning and engagement with community programs will all provide a platform for exploration and growth. I can assure you that, when I’ve run such activities, the outcomes have far exceeded what I expected.
I trust you will seek out new ways of blending your appreciate and your expectations of your students.