I believe that teaching my students how to learn is helping them drive away the darkness.
Many of my high school students were beaten down and frustrated by the time they got to me. I always felt like they believed they were in the land of darkness without any light. Many of them had extremely low self concepts and were biding their time until they were of age to quit school. They saw no reason to even try any more. Many of my students were objects of ridicule by their peers and were often bullied. Even some of their parents felt their children were just lazy or plain stupid.
That is why I introduced the class motto: I am a born winner! I felt that every person is born with a purpose and God doesn’t plan on them being losers. I asked every student to write that on their papers they turned in. I asked them to say that sentence aloud when asked. The class repeated it over and over again. It was time to turn their perceptions around. I needed them to start to believe it.
I started giving them work that was not baby work but I knew that they could be successful at. This built up their confidence levels. The more they were able to do, I slowly increased the difficulty. At times they wanted to slide back into self defeat but I wouldn’t let them. I pushed them over and over again. Slowly they began to realize how capable they were.
When we began to study a novel that students in the general classes were studying, they were amazed at what they could do. Of course, we read the novel together slower than they did in other classes but the discussions were very similar. My students were able to participate in some of the conversations at lunch that mentioned this novel. Suddenly they were on the same playing field as their peers.
Slowly my students began to stand straighter and hold their heads up higher. Slowly they realized that they were capable of so much more than others expected. Slowly they stopped allowing others to bully them and stood up for themselves. Slowly they began to see the light at the end of the tunnel and darkness was receding.
Suddenly they began to believe!
Many times over the past few years, I have come across former students who still remember our class motto. Some of them showed me that they have written it down and even still carry it in their wallets today. Some have even mentioned how it has helped them through difficult times of their adulthood. I’m so proud of them!
Do you have a class motto? If so, please share.
Image: 'Tunnel View... [Explored]'