Yesterday my wife emailed me an article from the Washington Post. It highlighted a blog by an anonymous writer who works in an urban school district called LoveTeachBlog. The title of blog is what captured my fancy, which was Teacher: What I wish everyone knew about working in some high needs schools. I hope that you can get the chance to read this blog post. It was very good, and very heart-felt. I work in a Title 1 school, and some what the author was expressing I can relate to.
There was one section that stuck out to me, and it says:
I would tell them about my quietest student, and how, on the day of our poetry slam, she stood up in front of the class and, in a voice that was loud and confident, recited every word of Amy Gerstler’s “Touring the Doll Hospital” by memory, and how all of us gave her a standing ovation and ran to hug her afterwards, and how it made me think of the quote from a character in Wonder by R.J. Palacio, “Everyone deserves a standing ovation because we all overcometh the world.” It was one of those weird moments where literature and life and beauty crash into you together at a thousand miles an hour and it knocks the wind out of you, but you look around and you’re alive, more than ever.
This paragraph stood out to me, because I began to wonder, do I do enough to empower my students to take a risk, and when they do take that risk do I praise them enough? Do I show my students how to give praise other students when it is deserved?
I have students like the one the author of the text describes. I have very smart gifted children, but some of them are very shy and quiet. Every so often one of these very shy gifted children will do something that is so unexpected, that it really does warrant a standing ovation not only from me but from their peers.
It already seems that many gifted students get left behind in some way, because most teachers think since they are smart they don’t need too many interventions. This isn’t true. The term gifted checked in their student I.D. box is just a check mark. They need to be praised. Many teachers just expect their project to be great, and so in those situations they don’t always get the recognition they deserve from the teacher and from their peers.
How do we expect our students to take risks in the classroom if we don’t give them recognition. How do we help those shy children come out of their shell, and show us their real self?I don’t know the answers to all the questions this post posses, but I do know the environment has to be a safe and inviting. Students ought to feel appreciated when they do good work, and take risks.
You know everyone deserves a standing ovation…especially in the classroom.