Will This Attack or Preserve the Dignity of a Child? from @DavidGeurin Blog, David Geurin asks,
“Can you think of other examples of practices that might chip away at students' dignity?”
I think the biggest event that chips away at student’s dignity is by making them ashamed of making mistakes. I feel that many students don’t even try because they are so fearful of making mistakes. When I ask them what is the worst thing that can happen, they answer that they would rather look rebellious than look stupid. Too many times teachers let students get away with that behavior.
I think we need to look past that rebellion and see the behavior for what it really is.
I look for ways that allow students to make mistakes without ridicule. Sometimes the ridicule comes more from themselves than others. I tell that it is like having a zit on your face that no one else notices except them and they feel like the zit is as big as a pepperoni on their face! This makes them laugh and hopefully put it more into perspective.
I make sure that everyone in the class knows that laughing at someone else’s mistakes will not be tolerated. I ask the students to brainstorm ways to support others when a mistake happens. By listing ways to support others, it helps them share ways that they wish someone had shown them. It really brings the class together when they share these support methods. If someone does slip and laugh when someone makes a mistake, we talk about how we can gently guide them to changing their behavior because the misbehavior may actually be a mistake too.
I also think it is important to teach students to share their feelings without being aggressive and angry. If someone ridicules them when they make a mistake, they should stop and tell that person that they don’t appreciate this behavior and it hurts their feelings. Maybe the other person doesn’t realize how this behavior affects someone else or maybe it takes a bigger person to confront them about it. If this behavior is left alone, it could turn into bullying.
What behaviors do you see that affect a student’s dignity and how do you handle it? Please share.