Many years ago when I knew without a doubt that I wanted to be a teacher, I also knew that I would always like working with those so-called "Difficult Students" best. I've always been able to work with students with special needs or behaviour issues, typically not experiencing the same behaviour problems that other teachers experience with those same kids. Kids respond well to me, I don't know why exactly, but there's always been something about me that has been able to build a bond or special relationship with nearly any kid I meet.
It could be because I treat all of my students with respect. Even a student who is "Difficult", of course! I take a look at who they are as a whole child. I think about what could be causing the difficulty and how we're going to overcome it. I build up their self-esteem, and encourage them to set goals and see that they have the ability to achieve those goals. I don't treat them as a hopeless case, I treat them like they have all the hope in the world, they just need to unlock what they're meant to be great at.
I want every student who passes through my classroom to feel that they had a teacher who believed in them. I want to inspire them, and I want all students to know that I am on their side. I set high expecations for behaviour, but also achieveable expectations by knowing who my students are as as whole child. I am in this career because I want to change lives, and teaching is just the career for that.
This year I have a few of those "Difficult Students". However, I have a fabulous class. I am absolutely overjoyed about how well grade two is going this school year. I come home inspired with ideas for helping my students extend their learning and achieve more, and I truly feel like I'm teaching my students how to be good, caring, and charitable individuals. We are having deep discussions about respect, about cultural differences, about how to treat others and learn to love and care for others even if we don't think at first that we can get along with them. My "Difficult Students" present a challenge at times, but I'm full of ideas on how to help them overcome their struggles. Day-to-day, I wouldn't necessarily always deem them "Difficult" anymore.
I have a very important parent-teacher meeting on Tuesday to follow-up with a meeting last week. A child in my class has a lot of stress and anger for age seven, and he has major issues with his mother. She is begging for help. I'm going to be there to help her, and I am going to implement a wide variety of strategies to help this child overcome his anger issues and take pride in his abilities in the classroom. Though he can be a needy student, constantly interrupting and at times very rude to his peers (who easily frustrate him), he is beginning to be an ally of mine in the classroom. I treat him with the respect he is looking for, and his behaviour (at least when with me) is turning around. He knows I'm willing to make him a leader if he can show me leadership traits (honesty, integrity, responsibility).
I hope he'll be a success story when all is said and done. At least I can sleep well at night knowing I'm doing many things to encourage him to change for the better, and become the amazing person I know he could be. At least I can sleep at night knowing I'm showing respect and encouraging feelings of dignity with each student I teach. Even the "Difficult Ones".
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