Thursday, March 1, 2012

Fighting Failure with Communication

Many students live in a world where it’s easy to give up on them. Their communities are burdened with so many challenges, that it’s easier to say “Get out!” than it is to tackle a behavior problem and acknowledge underlying social factors. Sometimes, this is rationalized by saying that the student is disrupting classroom learning—that you’re doing it for the benefit of the other students. But what do the other students see? They see you giving up on a classmate. Soon, they think, you might give up on them too. So what’s the point of behaving well?

Observing Ms. Bryson, I’ve seen an alternative teaching style. She constantly reinforces positive models, pointing out individual students and their behaviors. “I see Darius working hard on his class work. I see Kayla raising her hand quietly.” Instead of tearing the students down for their misbehaviors, she tells them, “I want you to tell me what you need.” Communication and resolution. It doesn’t always work. And it never looks easy. But there is something incalculably rewarding about seeing a student learn a life skill. This not only helps students create a positive learning culture, it helps them communicate their needs and their passions. Once they master communication, they have the potential to succeed.

"Education is not a way to escape poverty - It is a way of fighting it." 
 Julius Nyerere, former President of the United Republic of Tanzania

- Gaelle Gourmelon

1 comment:

  1. I really liked reading this. Thanks for the reminder about focusing on the positive and not giving up on students by kicking them out of class. I also liked how you mentioned that communication and resolution is a life skill that we can teach our students through modeling. So true!