My World and Welcome to It!

These are my thoughts and opinions about life in general. I also get daily prompts from DSP which inspire me to write. If I throw in some scrapbook pages I've done, photos I've taken, and stories about me, you will have an idea about my loony life!

Friday, July 14, 2006

Taking a stand about teaching

Today I was asked to take a stand about something I strongly believe in. Of course, as a teacher, this is just one of the many things that I strongly believe in but here it is...

I strongly believe that we need to build up children's self esteem. So many of my special ed students in my class have such low self esteem that they can not learn. It is not a matter of them being able to learn but a matter of them wanting to learn. If they don't even feel worthy to have a life, how can I expect to teach them anything? I spend the first month of school building their self esteem and literally feel like I'm fighting an uphill battle against the parents (who say the child is just not studying hard enough and has been dumb all his life), other teachers (who say the child is just not studying hard enough and is just plain dumb and have told the parents this), the peers (who say their friend is funny and likeable if he acts up in class), and other students (who say he is different and weird and doesn't "belong" to their group). I give lots of assignments where the student makes lots of good grades and then I call home on a weekly basis to let the parents know how wonderful the student is doing. You wouldn't believe how many parents ask me if I'm calling the right number and talking about their child! This is so sad! I've had some parents tell me that this is the first phone call in 9 years where anyone had anything good to say about their child. Boy, now that makes me mad! I use lots of praise and positive reinforcement because these students are so used to punishment and negative comments. These students are so capable but if they feel everyone is going to kick them when they are down, why bother trying to get up. As the students become more successful and start feeling good about themselves, I start giving them more challenging work. By the end of the year, the students are learning and thriving, which is so important. Every piece of paper they turn in for a grade has to have our class motto on it which is "I am a Born Winner!" No work will be accepted if this isn't on it. When I have my students evaluate me at the end of the year, many of them say this was the best thing that helped them. I truly value my students and wish I could get others to do so too.

Thank you for taking time to read this and I hope I have made you think. If you are a parent, please try to find at least one good thing that your child has done and point it out every day. Talk to your children about encouraging their friends to do the right thing instead of giving attention when they act up. Also talk about children who don't fit in (maybe a physical or learning disability) and how they can be a better person around them. If you are a teacher, try to find one positive thing about your student, even if it is one you can't stand. Talk to your students about why some children misbehave and brainstorm ways your class can help those students. Above all, remember to value children because they are our future!

10 comments:

glynis said...

Bravo! Well said. It saddens me so much to think that some children are 'written off' by society at a young age, let alone their own parents! Thank you so much for what you do...you're an inspiration to me and I know you are to your students!

Anonymous said...

As a student, I know what a wonderful difference it can make to have such a passionate and caring teacher who tries to really make a difference. Your students are lucky to have you! (:

Bonnie said...

It is sad that parents can not believe enough in their childre, belittle them or think badly of them. I admire and salute you for what you do. It is so important to teach our children and to help them build their self confidance to become resposible and caring adults. Small praises are all that is needed, going overboard is also damaging, cos then you would bring up a overly confidant and arrogrant child, so finding the balance is hard. Thank you for sharing this.

heather said...

Absolutely!! This is so true.

Tink said...

Oh Pat, I wish there were more teachers and parents like you. You are very special.

CompooperTeacher said...

Thanks for the reminder . . . sometimes parents forget to tell their children how proud they are of them. Off to do it now!

Webfrau said...

It sounds like you are a wonderful, compassionate and wise teacher. The world could do with a lot more like you.

Meg said...

Awesome, awesome, awesome!! As the parent of one child who is gifted academically and one who is special needs, I fight every day to show people that one is not better than the other. My son is still very young, but I pray that he ends up with teachers as wonderfull as you someday. Wonderful post!

Rusheika said...

wonderful post. I will continue to remind myself of this as I raise my babies!

Laura Lou said...

This just made me cry. It brought back many memories of when I was teaching second grade. I stressed the Aesop Fable of the Tortoise and the Hare..."Slow and steady gets the job done." In fact turtles became my trademark and I ended up teaching "Turtle Logo" in the infancy of the personal computer. I also started my large turtle collection in those days.