How to Appreciate all Students
Do not give up on your students by holding them in retention or by promoting them socially or by ignoring them through your teacher paid salary to teach them.
Do not give up on your students by disdaining their appearance or skin color or latent language development.
Do not give up on your students by their cleverness or by their “know it all attitudes” or by their giftedness.
Instead of giving up on your students, seek innovative ways to reach them. Your students will learn any instructional value you prepare for them if they are presented with instruction in which they can reason.
Research explains that retention nor socially promotion of students helps; in fact, both means offer no added advantage for students to raise their self-esteem nor learn lessons they should to know. Your teaching job becomes counterproductive when the minimal approach of teaching is given, especially when you are not held accountable for the success of every student. Yet, holding and passing your students are not solutions of displaying your skills to make a difference.
Consider the following story of a teacher who was unable to erase a sharpie mark from a white board: The teacher tried every solution she knew to remove the mark—-soap and water, scraping, board marker removals, and prayer. Nothing worked. She finally decided to cover-up the marked mistakes by placing smiling stickers over the area. Just before the stickers had time to dry-stick, another teacher walked into the frustrated teacher’s room. Stunned by noticing the smiling stickers on the board, she asked the frustrated teacher, “What are you doing?”
The frustrated teacher sobbed, “I mistakenly used a sharpie marker on my board and am unable to erase it!”
“Ooh, goodness,” sighed the helpful teacher. “Well, do not fret. I have a solution for you in a bottle located in my classroom.” The helpful teacher went to her classroom for the solution and immediately returned. She sprayed the solution on the board, and the sharpie’s marks quickly dissolved.
“My, that’s impressive,” the now elated teacher said. “What is the solution”?
“Goof Off,” the other teacher bragged. “It’s perfect for erasing permanent markers from white boards.”
The moral of the story is that, as teacher, you should try different methods of teaching students. If ideas about teaching are slow in coming, ask other persons for help. Usually, someone else is around campus who knows strategies to help students learn, even if you do not. Thus, connect with others and talk about techniques that help students be successful, for retention and social promotion are ineffective: Try incorporating “creativity” to help you find solutions to students’ delayed learning.
Accordingly, many students will be placed in your classroom of a given number for you to teach, and students will be different from your desired expectations, and some students will be the complete antithesis to you as a person, which can make commonality awkward if not handled appropriately; yet you must continue to teach the students: They must be contractually taught.
To hold back teaching students the Standards that provide them with knowledge and life richness simply because of students’ skin color or their unique appearance or their broken English is unfair to the students—and not teaching students fully is unfair to the teaching profession. Some students, under good instruction, can become a top student in their classes if given a chance. Another scenario reveals a teacher’s dislike of a student because she looked very poor. She wore her hair in one long braid without accessories and she wore no makeup. Her dresses were always below her knee, and some days, when it was not cold outside, the student wore a winter coat. To the teacher, the student did not appease her one bit, for the student did not appear to be worthy of learning much if anything at all.
As the semester proceeded, the teacher began to notice the writing of the student. She noticed that the student’s penmanship was clear and comely and that her vocabulary was advanced. When the student finally spoke in class, “When writing an analysis,” the student unhesitatingly asked the teacher, “is it appropriate to refute an author’s perspective.”
The teacher stalled before she answered and the class was surprisingly mute.
“Yes,” the teacher finally said. “Opposition shows incredible astuteness when a student writes to refute an author’s position if she may do so with valid support.”
”Thank you;” the student replied. A tone of courtesy was a luxury the teacher was not used to from her students, and she was now impressed with the young student.
As it turned out, the student was an exchange-student from South Africa. She was chosen from a poor family who was granted an opportunity to visit America to eventually study medicine. The teacher felt annoyed with herself for judging such a brilliant black—no, African—student.
The moral of the story is “Do not judge a book by its cover.” You must look inside the book to find its worthiness.
Thus, overall, a turnover of teacher biases toward students must be called upon, and new teachers’ mindsets for instructing must come forth. Students cannot be blamed for their race or their appearance or their life-long lived broken language: Students are people: some black. some brown, some yellow, some white; some rich, some poor. Still, all students are capable of learning with the right teachers supporting them.
With sincere care and diligence from educators, effective instruction can be a great learning force for students. Recognizing that color is a race, not a disgrace, should be perceived respectfully. The focus should be on teaching rather than on judging; sincerity can be the catalyst to make a benevolent difference in student learning.
Continuing, in honors classes, you will undoubtedly meet students of gifted intelligence. These students might have questions or highlight contradictions in your instruction. Their feisty manners of speaking and bold attitudes of “out shining you” can be embarrassing for you, and their “quickness” in speaking and in doing things accurately can be very much unsettling to you.
Once, in an honors class, a savvy student questioned a teacher if he ever earned a grade of 98. He would pout if the teacher would not change his grade to 100 since it was only 2 points off. The student would email the teacher asking for grades, or he would boast whenever he earned the highest grade in class: needless to say; he was not popular among the other students. The student’s arrogance became unbearable for the teacher that she began to look for errors in his tests to count against him.
One day, while in a parent teacher conference with his mom, the mom told the teacher how her son had always made A’s and that he was vying against himself to one day become the smartest president of the United States.
“My son is serious,” she shared with the teacher.
After meeting with the parent, talking and delighting in stories about the student, the teacher looked at her pupil in a different way. She now saw a young boy eager to be a man to rule the world, and that his arrogant manner was only a goal to make something of his life.
The moral of the story is that you, as teacher, should support your bright students: Teaching highly intelligent students provides you with the opportunity to inspire leadership awareness in them: Thus, teach bright students to be humble and gallant and prudent. Help them to see that a braggadocio tone can be irritating to others.
In essence, instead of ignoring the gifted student’s hand up to participate in class or grudgingly lowering grades on the student’s extremely well-written essays, try to elicit the bright student as an aide to instruction: Allow the gifted student to teach classes to lead discussions. Additionally, make a point to compliment or to acknowledge all gifted students if indeed they make sense in reasoning.
Gifted students often lose the limelight under the less gifted students’ plights. Yet, highly intelligent students need attention, too, whether or not they appear laden with hubris. They are students, which mean they can be guided and taught appropriately. Moreover, gifted students can bring excitement and meaning to an otherwise dull and laborious classroom setting.
Do not give up on your students. Simply help them shine by using the tips below:
- Acknowledge students by their names, for their names are important to them.
- Avoid retaining or socially promoting students; teach to their hearts instead.
- Introduce different cultures so students will be familiar with other life styles.
- Teach meaning of “self-concept” so that students may recognize their strengths and weaknesses.
- Recognize biases and subtlety modify them.
- Be fair in grading—no matter how you feel about the student.
- Appreciate all students.
- Collaborate with colleagues to share ideas for student learning.
- Reflect on your instruction to ensure fairness.
- Be the best teacher you know how to be.
Cynthia Mathews, Ed.D.
Doctor of Curriculum and Instruction
Professional Development Consultant
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Professional Development Consultant
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