Tuesday, December 10, 2013
Below is a letter from Carol that reinforces the student-centered focus so critical in successful schools.
Something pretty special happened to me last week. I know this doesn’t exactly fit with designing lesson plans but I wanted to share this antidote because it’s about what’s really important; it’s all about the kids. I don’t know how to send things to your blog so I’m sending you this email. As we work through our lesson plans and common cores and national standards, we need to be mindful of how we interact with the students and that this is equally, if not more important. One can have the best lesson plan but if the teacher can’t reach the child, what’s the point. My story is not about me, but about another teacher who took the opportunity to make a connection with a student.
To set the stage, I’m involved in a yearlong STEM PD. During these sessions, a big emphasis is placed on the importance of affirmations and how it must be incorporated into the classroom. Sitting in the session, I would listen but, honestly, it seemed a bit to contrived for my taste. On Wednesday, I had a full day PD session.
Here’s the story: Tuesday I took my students on a field trip to a nature center. An adult leader there was impressed with the questions one particular student was asking. She told the student, Dashavia, that she has the mind of a scientist and could have a great career in science. The instructor mentioned this conversation to me as well. Wednesday, I was at the STEM PD and had a sub. When I returned to school on Thursday, one particular class complained about the sub saying this, that and the other thing. I didn’t think too much about it, until they said “and she told Dashavia that she was going to go to jail”. That caught my attention. This young lady can be talkative and show a bit of attitude but jail? Really? I thought of what was said to her at the field trip and took the opportunity to say, in front of the class, “Dashavia, what did the teacher say to you on the field trip?” With a big smile, she said “I’m going to make a great scientist”. I nearly cried. I told her “the only way you’ll go to a jail is if you’re doing some scientific research there”. This got a big laugh from the class and Dashavia was obviously happy. I am so thankful to that instructor. I will thank her and relay this story to her. And, you can bet that that sub. is never welcome back in my class.
What we say can have a huge impact on a child. As we plan our lessons, we need to be constantly mindful of not only what we teach, but what we say when teaching. I realize this particular example would not have been written in to a lesson and would not have been as effective if it had. But we should keep, in our ever expanding tool box, ways in which we can support a student (child) as they grow and move on. I don’t know what’s in store for Dashavia or even if she’ll remember this particular detail of her 6th grade year. But I believe she will remember a warm feeling that someone thought she was pretty special.