“A few days ago, I posted this on Facebook, ‘Teacher thought for the day..... If I grew up exactly like my student did, with the same advantages and disadvantages, the same parents, the same life, I would act the same way they do. Sure, as we get older, we can choose the person we want to be. But, until we are 'done' we are a product of our environment and experiences. So, show some extra patience and love to one who seems unlovable...’”
I guess this hit home because when I was in school I always felt like the unlovable one. I was never the popular kid and I wasn’t the smartest. Both of these got lots of attention from the teachers. I also wasn’t the dumbest because this person also got the teacher’s attention. The worst behaved, of course, got lots of attention from the administration. So I guess I equated attention with love. Since I was the mediocre kid who tried very hard to blend into the woodwork, I didn’t get a lot of attention and so I guess I felt unloved.
Then you had the kids who were popular among the students and they got lots of attention from the wannabes. You know these kids, they want to be just like the popular kids. But I wasn’t even in the wannabe circles. There were also kids who liked to rebel against the norm and they got their share of the attention from other students too. Of course, my parents would have killed me if I tried to rebel because they expected me to be a good, quiet girl who does what she is told. Then you had the outcasts who were ridiculed by their fellow classmates. And of course, I wasn’t even strange enough to be considered an outcast. So, once again, I blended into the woodwork, even among my classmates and felt unloved here too.
I’m not saying that I was miserable but I remember feeling like I was always looking in from the outside. I couldn’t have explained it to anyone at the time but I can still remember the feeling as if it was yesterday. I wanted to be popular and smart and loved by the teachers but I knew it wouldn’t happen. I had friends and that helped but I think we bonded together because we all kind of felt the same way.
Then I went on to a university far away from home, where no one knew me. I knew this was my chance to start new and create a new me. I really wanted to change the way I felt and how others saw me. But I really didn’t do this because it wasn’t in me. I finally realized that I was the person I was and needed to accept myself before others could.
These feelings and awareness and acceptance also helped me be a better teacher. I realized there were a lot of students out there just like me. This was my chance to make a difference. I spent my career looking for these students. I wanted to find the ones who didn’t stand out, who was the most popular, the most trouble, the smartest, the most in need of help and find the ones who thought they blended in with the woodwork. This was my chance to make a difference.
I like to think that I found some of these students and I made an impact in their lives. I hope that other teachers will remember these students when doling out the attention and praise. It really is important even if a student doesn’t show it.
Do you do this? If so, what are some things you do to include this kind of student into your circle of attention?
Posted on the Successful Teaching Blog by loonyhiker (successfulteaching at gmail dot com).
Original image: 'Sure no one can see me'
http://www.flickr.com/photos/64294921@N00/87000321 by: Adele