An episode of How I Build This with Guy Raz talked about the CEO of Zappos and how he’s created a good culture at his company. He had a such a bad experience at a previous job where he didn’t even want to go to work anymore that when he started his company, he was careful to create a culture where people wanted to work. I want to create a classroom culture where students want to come to class, know what we’re doing, and know why we’re learning it.
So what happens when you run into students who don’t do anything and start failing. That’s what’s happening right now. I have a few students that I am having such a hard time reaching. They are very defensive. Usually I am good at getting students to like me, so they participate in class for my sake more than their own, but these few students don’t seem to care at all.
The thing is though, they have really good attendance. Perfect attendance. They never miss class. Why would they come to class everyday if they really didn’t want to be there?
I think if students are in class, they must want us to reach them and keep trying.
It’s difficult to keep your emotional reserve on full when dealing with students who aren’t giving any energy back. I was getting worn down. I was feeling bad about not being able to reach all of the students in my care. My mindset was getting negative and that starting to make my interactions with the students negative or apathetic in my own right.
I read an article this weekend that is really helping me reframe this whole issue. The author, Angela Watson, discusses having some affirmations ready for when you start getting down. The purpose is keep keep yourself in a positive mindset.
Here’s an affirmation she suggests:
“I can go to sleep tonight content that I have done what I can do to help these kids. I worked toward my vision of making a difference for them, whether or not they choose to take me up on it. Tomorrow, I will go in the classroom and give my all once again, regardless of how much effort they do or don’t put forth. I am responsible for only my own actions.”
Negativity, nagging, making students feel bad, or pointing out how they’re failing is not going to help them turn things around. I want these students to like learning. I have a mission driven class where I am teaching them self-direction, love of learning, and tech skills in addition to the state science standards.
Watson has another affirmation to stop any negative thoughts invading your head space:
“Nope, I refuse to give up based on the response I got from students. My job is to work toward my vision for teaching each day and bring my energy and enthusiasm to the classroom. I’m doing that and I choose to feel good about it.”
Now, this doesn’t mean work toward your classroom vision without eliciting any feedback or reflection from the students. You are in a classroom learning and working together, so their reflective feedback is integral in a properly running flexible learning environment. The students I am referring to aren’t giving me much feedback other than they don’t like school and they aren’t participating at all. With those students I need to continue to work toward my vision each day with enthusiasm.
I must live my classroom mission with all students no matter their reaction to my positivity, mission, and enthusiasm.
I believe a truly good teacher can teach any student under any circumstance. I want to learn to reach all of the students that are trusted in my care. I am a very happy, enthusiastic teacher. I love my job. I am going to make sure I let that enthusiasm shine on the students who need it the most. Maybe they will blossom and grow this year and I will get to see it. Maybe the interactions I am having with them now won’t have an impact until they long gone and I’ll never get to see their turn around. Either way I am having an impact on them. I intend my impact to be positive.