This next post is one that has been brewing for the better part of a month, but that I have struggled to organize and actually write. The Twitterverse keeps dropping tweets, memes, blogposts and quotes reminding me, and nudging me to get on it! So here is my attempt at organizing the scattered thoughts that have been floating around in my head for a good month now.
If I had to come up with one word to describe these floating feelings and thoughts, that word would have to be PRIDE! Last year was a year of extreme challenge, but with this came a whole lot of growth, learning and success. When faced with new challenges last fall, my team worked closely with our positive behaviour support team, who continually reminded us of Ross Greene’s words, “Kids do well if they can, and if they can’t, it is our job to figure out what is getting in the way.”
As a team, we did our best to keep Greene’s words at the forefront of our thinking. We opened our minds to, and implemented a variety of strategies recommended by the experts, in hopes that they would actually work, and allow our struggling students to experience success. Although at times it felt like our efforts were futile, the start up to school this fall has allowed me to realize that these efforts were not the least bit futile, but in fact fruitful! Very, very fruitful!
I mentioned the word PRIDE, and while I AM proud of the work my team did last year, my true feelings of pride are more for the students that are continually working to overcome struggle. I am talking about the students who are met daily with challenges different to, and more frequent than those faced by most of their peers. School is a place where they are often misunderstood, a constant uphill climb, and despite this, they continue to show up everyday and climb that hill. Resilience exemplified! Often, these kids are some of the hardest working students in the school, and yet unfortunately, they are also often the ones that get the least amount of recognition. It is easy to get wrapped up in the challenges WE face as teachers, all the while forgetting the challenges some of our students are facing at the same time. But (in my eyes), the award goes to…them!
I must admit, I didn’t recognize this right away. It really took stepping away during the summer break and coming back in the fall to fully recognize all that these students have achieved, as well as to accept that change really does takes time, sometimes lots and lots of time.
I only have to think about where many of these students were last year to realize the changes that have occurred in them since then. Where last year some of these students were spending little to no time in the classroom, this year many are spending full days in class learning with their peers. And while in the eyes of some, their days may still not look perfect, if we remind ourselves of all that they are up against every day, and that everyone’s progress looks different, it is much easier to see just how perfect their progress truly is!
All of this recent reflection leaves me with a few final thoughts that I will be doing my best to remember going forward:
- Kids really DO do well if they can, and if they can’t it’s our job to figure out what is getting in the way (truly important advice from Ross Greene).
- Trust the experts and be open-minded to the strategies and resources that they recommend. With time, they really do work.
- Change takes time. Believe in your students and be patient.
- When struggling to see a student’s progress, reflect on where they started and what they are up against, and you will more easily be able to see just how well they are actually doing.
- Find their strengths and give them opportunities to share these strengths with others.
- Remember to take the time to recognize their success no matter how big or small.
- Learn from these students. They have a different set of skills to share with the world and so, so much to teach us.
- Be an advocate for these struggling students, they all need adults in their corner.