Their First Need Is To Know That We Like Them

Tolstoy had that quote about how his school days were filled with endless mindless tasks and drudgery. I wish I could find that quote. But, when we genuinely like our kids, the sense of play is there and, with it, the foundation for real learning. The following email from Michele in Alaska illustrates the joy that kids feel when they are honestly recognized by their teacher in at least one class. It’s unique, and very much a part of what many of our TPRS classes look like every day. In my view, their knowing that we like them and want them to have fun and succeed is their primary need in our classes before any academic considerations can enter into the acquisition equation. To riff on the Discipline Precedes Instruction edict, which is so true, we might add that Liking Them Precedes Discipline Precedes Instruction. Obviously Michele’s kids know that they are liked. The skills of TPRS are not as important as keeping the sense of light banter and fun going in the classroom. TPRS is about play.
Hi Ben,
Today our school gave the “Climate and Connectedness Survey.” Everyone had to do it during period 4. I have an incredible bunch of really fun kids during that period. They were reading the questions aloud and commenting. There were questions like, “Will your teachers miss you if you’re gone from school for a day?” One kid said, “None of my other teachers will miss me, but in here I’m the one who likes the Stallion.” Another kid said, “I know that Ms. Whaley likes me, but I don’t think any of my other teachers know anything about me.” And so on. I was happy to find that they know I like them and appreciate their talents and their quirks, but I was dismayed to hear that these wonderful kids don’t think other adults appreciate them.
You’d have to see them. They are truly an unusual bunch of individuals, and I love having them in class. There’s really no way for them to avoid contributing to their classes, and what’s more, when I bring up their names, other teachers do know and like them. It amazes me that the TPRS philosophy not only allows us to get to know them, but lets them know that they are worthy as well. I’m grateful.



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