Are You Listening?

When a student doesn’t have their homework in class, do you realize it is because they were up all night taking care of their siblings because their parents were at work?

If a student refuses to look you in the eye when they talk to you, do you realize it is because it is a sign of disrespect in their culture?

When that boy in the hallway punches the third kid in a week, do you realize he gets hit when he is at home by his father?

If you ask a kid to do something in class and they never do it, do you realize it is because they don’t know how to do it?

When you get frustrated with that kid in the back of the room that does no homework, never participates, and stares out the window, do you realize he has seen his father attempt suicide and is living with his grandma?

If you have a student disrespects you in the hallway, do you realize that you as the teacher have never earned their respect, but rather demanded it?

When the student in your first period class is late on a regular basis, do you realize she walks to school because her mom went out one night and has yet to come home.

So, what is the point of this? The point is, teachers need to get to know their students and connect with them on a personal level. We cannot make assumptions about students and be na├»ve to think we know what is really going on in their lives. As teachers we have to remember that these students have lives outside of school and not all of them are what we would describe as educationally supportive and nurturing. When we make those connections, it is a powerful tool in education. You will be amazed what a student will do for an adult that shows interest and care in their lives.

I challenge myself not to jump to conclusions and make judgments about a student. In almost all cases of student behavior, good or bad, there is a story behind it.

Do you spend enough time listening to your students to hear their stories?

Kid's Say The Darndest Things!

This is not going to be the most enlightening post I have ever written so feel free to stop reading now if you are looking for an educational epiphany. I am going to play the role of Bill Cosby on my own version of “Kids Say the Darndest Things” and try to make a pathetically loose connection to Education.

Over the past few months my sons have had some great one-liners that from a parental standpoint I don’t want to forget. So, yes, part of the intent behind this post is so I have a record of such statements. The first such “line” is more of a detailed anatomical explanation of a stomach. While eating dinner the other night, my 5 year old son told me he was full. If you looked at his plate, he barely touched his food. After the meal my 2 year old son was given a cookie as his dessert because he had eaten his dinner. My 5 year old son asked if he could have a cookie as well. I told him he could not because he did not eat his dinner because he said he was full. He took this opportunity to explain the inner workings of his young stomach:

“Daddy, it’s ok. I have two tubes in my stomach. The dinner tube is all full but the dessert tube is empty. So, I can have dessert.”

That seemed very logical to me.

Another such occasion was when my oldest woke up very early one morning…which happens often. I asked him why he was up so early. His response:

“Well, the little men in my eyeballs started banging on the back of my eyelids because it was time to get up.” He also explained that, “the movies were playing in my eyeballs all night.” This was what I gather to be his explanation of his dreaming.

Again, this seemed like a very logical answer to me.

The final example comes from my soon to be 3 year old son. One morning as I am cooking up some breakfast he tells me, “hurry up, my tummy is crying!” This was his way of telling me he was hungry and his stomach was growling.

If you are still reading at this point you either have children and like these types of stories or you are hoping I am going to make some grand connection to education. I am more than likely not even going to attend to make a connection for the sake of making one.

However, in some cases, it is nice to write what is on your mind and have fun. So, there is your connection, let your students write for fun.