I remember what it was like in my adolescence to go to school with a heavy mind and heart. Anticipating the mysteries of adulthood – desiring freedom.
As a teacher, if I am worth anything, I must have EMPATHY for my students. On some level, I must be mindful and identify with my student’s feelings, thoughts, and attitudes.
All it takes is a bit of inquiry. It’s worth it.
Photo Credit: EKG Technician Salary
One of my favorite movies is “To Sir with Love”. In this movie, Engineer Mark Thackeray arrives to teach a totally undisciplined class at an East End school…He starts implementing his own brand of classroom discipline: forcing the pupils to treat each other with respect. Inevitably he begins getting involved in the students’ personal lives, and must avoid the advances of an amorous student while winning over the class.
I cry every time I see this movie because I love the relationships he develops as their teacher. When I decided to teach, this movie came to mind several times. I could see myself coming into a tough school situation and winning the hearts and minds of the students with a goal of improving their lives – not just academically, but all around. It’s a tall order – but one of the most important jobs you could have.
It means the world to me to be relational with my students. I work to have their trust and confidence while fostering their growth and development. Yes, it is entirely possible to do this and still hold them accountable to stay on task and do what it takes to learn. Not only do they need relationship, they need structure and guidance too.
While I’m no Sir…I love it when my students say, “Ms. Lyons…?”
Photo Credit: IMDB “To Sir with Love” 1967
“Please pay attention…get on task…focus! Do you hear me?”
As a mother of a teenager who struggled with attention deficit disorder (a label he hates even now), I thought I had the best information and tools in my arsenal. I read many of the books and even became certified to coach parents of attention deficit disorder or hyperactive disorder ADD/ADHD children.
What I did not realize is the real root cause of inattentiveness; nor how to positively impact my son’s environment enough to support him in developing attention skills. I also needed to view some of his behaviors as normal because his brain was doing something that would prove invaluable later on in his life.
The parent coaching certification program I completed never addressed infant or child brain development or research – it was simply so long ago. Back then, the focus was on mainly behavior outcomes and educational reform advocacy.
Today, I know so much more! Some of the behaviors infants and toddlers display is actually necessary for orientating, maintaining, and controlling or regulating their attention skills. Patience and understanding is what is needed during the so-called terrible twos. Although it looks like an unnecessary tantrum, the brain is busy at work in reconstructing that child’s neural patterns. This is when the child is developing their patience, controlling emotions, and directing their focus.
As a middle school teacher with this understanding, I am grateful for the opportunity to positively impact my student’s environment by:
- providing opportunities to make the best of their attention skills with curriculum and activities that consider their specific needs
- passing on my knowledge and encouraging parents to reinforce healthier nutrition and regular bedtimes (proper sleep is vital to brain cell development)
- providing a safe environment in my classroom – free of the big 5 (fear, hunger, abuse, neglect, or depression)
Photo Credit: Quinn Dombrowski
After watching the videos: Brain Plasticity and Imaging/Development on the website: Changing Brains: Effects of Experience on Human Brain Development, I realized there is a lot more to teaching than standing in the front of the room and sharing lesson plans. How am I impacted by this information as a teacher?
Our youth are fragile human beings that require a lot more than most realize. Specifically, they require individualized attention in a collective world. Because the child’s brain is continually developing and as a teacher I have a great deal to do with the sensitive periods during that development, I must be both deliberate and considerate in my teaching method.
I want to see each of my students grow and mature to a healthy adult life and way of being. My greatest contribution as a teacher can only take place during the minutes I have them in my classroom. For me, those moments are precious. The deliberate actions taken must be positive and reinforce building a healthy brain. The activities we do in the classroom, the conversations we hold, and what I expose them to all play an important role in building a strong foundation for their future growth and development.
My least favorite phrase (especially while teaching) is, “I’m bored.”
Why? Because it is a red flag that as a teacher, I am not doing what I should be. There shouldn’t be a dull moment. Engagement is the name of the game!
As a new teacher, this is my number one focus – STUDENT ENGAGEMENT. I am always looking for anything that will help in this area. My students shouldn’t be bored! They should be on the edge of their seats inhaling knowledge. They should be so interested that they long for every word I speak and they look forward to participating every opportunity they can!
My goal is to become the best teacher ever when it comes to student engagement!