I admit it. My wife watches Oprah, and because of the proximity of our computer to our T.V., I often unintentionally overhear the show. (Don’t worry, guys. I never watch more than 3 minutes at a time, or without a 5 minute break between segments. Yeah, that’s the ticket!)
Maya Angelou was a guest on one show, and one of their topics of conversation was education. They discussed how parents and teachers are often frustrated by children. We adults often feel let down when children don’t make the progress we wish they would. This eventually affects the relationship between the child and parent or teacher. After enough negative interactions, whenever the child and adult walk into a room and see each other their eyes roll in grief.
How many of our students go from class to class, from teacher to teacher, consistently getting disapproval? Wouldn’t it make a huge difference in the lives of these students if instead of getting disapproval, they saw our eyes light up? “Johnny, you’re here! I was hoping you would make it today!” How often do students hear phrases like this? Not often enough. What do you think it would do for one of these so called problem students to receive a kind word and a look of joy from their music teacher? It would probably make their day, and maybe even make a lasting impression on them.
It’s been my experience that most students who we perceive as bad kids probably have troubled home lives, or difficulty with our educational test-oriented paradigm, or even a harder time with social skills. More than once I have talked with another teacher about a troublesome student only to find that their parents are divorcing or they are going through some other painful experience. We can’t be their psychologists or therapists, but we can give them the benefit of the doubt by extending a little grace their way.
So here’s a little encouragement to show some kindness to your toughest kids and let your eyes light up with you see them.