Kids need approval. If they don’t get it from parents, they can try to get it in school. If not there, in a gang. They’ll find it somewhere because they need it. The approval doesn’t have to be huge. Just a little nod, a little glance to let them know that they are o.k. and not a total fuck-up.
We can learn from this. If we prepare our hearts to be with our students, and ready ourselves to approve of them in ways that they probably rarely experience, we can reach them better. Words, glances, are merely devices to bring humans closer together or farther apart, and we can choose the former over the latter.
One way to make words and glances bring us closer to our students might be in our attitude of prepared heart, of constant genuine approval of them and their genuine efforts. Then the language would be naturally learned, being obviously so welcomed by the students in this dark world that is so full of judgement.
If we did it that way, then struggle, feeling stupid, would be gone from that classroom for that kid. We would put their humanity over their performance and it would change the language results we get from them.
I would like to be able to smile and shower approval, genuine approval, on my students in much the same way that I would like to have approval showered on me. It’s pretty much the Golden Rule. But how many teachers do that in their classrooms, as they constantly judge and datafy the kid?
The more we datafy (I know it’s not a word – yet), the more they defy.