After a long break, I return to my late summer round up of ideas about teaching emotionally disabled children. You can check out the original list here, and subsequent postings, here and here... also, here
6. I enjoy interacting with students. My students sense my enjoyment.
It’s not enough that I like children. It’s not enough that I consider myself the proverbial “people person”. Working with kids is my mission in life, and I can’t think of anything more satisfying than the day-in day-out, shoulder to shoulder work I do with them.
But that alone is not enough.
It only counts if the children KNOW I enjoy working with them. It only matters if they get it that they are my first priority, the reason I’m in this business at all. Frankly, if they leave my class unsure of my interest in their achievement, be it academic or personal, I haven’t done my job.
While this is true of students in general, emotionally fragile children are all the more sensitive to the moods and views of a distant or uninterested teacher. Without the compensatory skills needed to negotiate other’s agendas, emotionally disabled students are likely to shut down or act up sooner, longer, and more intensely. ED students misread and make personal any negativity or lack of engagement.
When we wear our hearts on our sleeves, when it’s obvious to everyone around us that this is where we want to be, where we are meant to be, we’re smoothing our students’ path to achievement.
Let’s see. Care enough to notice what interests them. Ask about kids’ ideas, and listen….really listen to their answers. Smile. A lot. Frown too. Show disappointment and displeasure as a byproduct of passion and commitment. Have expectations; help kids meet them. Illuminate the way out, around and through hurdles. Take kids by the hand (figuratively or literally, depending on their age), and pronounce for all to hear that kids and their learning is your priority! Live each day true to that pronouncement.
Whew, that feels good!!