Bright Future Campaign - Week 27 - Closing the Attitude Gap - Chapter 4 - Part II

If you want to review the past couple of weeks or are still searching for the time to sit down and begin the powerful reflection, you can find the past posts at the link below.

As you recall, Chapter 4 of "Closing the Attitude Gap" is Compassion for Students - Do I Care About Them? 

I know it's been a couple of weeks, so it may be time to look into your mirror and ask yourself the following questions about your students:

1. Do they perceive that I care about them? 
2. Do they perceive that I like them? 3. Do they perceive that I appreciate them? 
4. Do they perceive that I respect them? 
5. Do they perceive that I understand them?
6. Do they perceive that I have empathy toward them? 
7. Do they perceive that I am patient with them? 
8. Do they perceive that I treat them equally and fairly? 
9. Do they perceive that i am committed to them? 
10. Do they perceive that I fear them? 

As you will see as we work through chapter 4, it is not about what YOU think! It is about the perception YOUR students have about YOU! 

Showing Your Students That You Empathize with Them

Empathy is closely related with understanding. We can not simply ignore the life challenges that many of our students face. These challenges affect their ability to learn and to be successful in our classrooms, but more importantly, their desire to even want to learn! 

We all sit down at the end of the day in our homes a bring with us he stories of our students. They are with us 24/7. We cry when hearing some of them and constantly wonder what can we do. 

There is a fine line between empathy and sympathy. We cannot and should not feel sorry for any of our students. Sympathy is not going to help them maximize their potential. Our students need us to understand, identify with, and relate to them, not to feel sorry for them. They need us to know their plight, but also to push them hard so they may successfully overcome it. They need us to listen because they need to be heard. Hart and Kindle Hodson (2004) note, "If we want our students to think for themselves, to be honest and authentic, we need to be reflective, honest and authentic ourselves. If we want our students to know that their thoughts and feelings matter to us, we will take the time to listen to them and to consider their points of view." (P.25)

The bottom line, to get our students to reach their I imagined heights, we must understands and empathize, but never sympathize. 

Showing Students That You're Patient with Them

In today's times of high stakes testing (11 days away) there are enormous pressures on teachers and students to perform. With these pressures, it's so easy to lose sight of our fundamental purpose of education: to learn. If our students are going to perform well on standardized tests as well as strive for excellence in all their educational endeavors, we must demonstrate patience with them throughout the process. Students do not all learn alike, think alike, or behave alike, it is vital that you appreciate their differences and demonstrate patience with them all. Students will not achieve success at the same time, and any failure to demonstrate patience can discourage those who learn at a slower pace - and discouragement translates into low performance. 

Showing Students That You Treat Them Equally and Fairly 

How do you treat your students? Do you treat them equally? Do you treat them fairly? How do your students perceive your treatment of them? You cannot get the most out of your students if they perceive you treat them unequally or unfairly. They want to be valued, feel appreciated, feel respected. When differential treatment exists, resentment sets I among students, leading to unnecessary tension in your room. Avoid this by taking action to ensure your students perceive you as treating them all in a fair and equal manner. 

Showing Students That You're Committed to Them:

When all is said and done, our students have to be convinced that we are committed to their educational growth and development. They have to feel and perceive our purpose for reporting to work everyday is to help them soar. They must know we are there for them.

One day when our students are gone and grown, what would they say if they were specifically asked about you as their teacher? Would they articulate how much you cared for them? Would they share how committed you were to them?

We must demonstrate an obvious commitment to our students' overall educational growth and development. We must consistently demonstrate to them that they matter, that they are important, and that you will do whatever it takes to ensure their success, no matter the challenges. 

Showing Students That You Don't Fear Them

Do you fear any of your students? Do they perceive that you fear them? 

Kafele shared a story of him being a consultant and walking down the hallway with a principal. On their walk a student was walking towards them with a hat on, sagging pants, and was deeply engrossed in a cell phone conversation. As they passed in the hallway, the principal said nothing.  Kafele asked if he was going to address it and the principal said the behavior was typical and too far out of control to correct. 

Clearly there were some culture and climate issues at this school and fear was in the air. The principal was too afraid to address either the student on the phone or the other students in the hallways. 

We can't motivate, educate, and empower students if we fear them. We can't transform attitudes if we fear them, either. Once student perceive teachers fear them, making positive connections becomes virtually impossible. You cannot fear any student in your classroom. Demonstrating a fear of your students completely undermines authority as the teacher and renders us incapable of closing the attitude gap. From day one, we must establish authority as the teacher. You can't effectively teach and inspire if you are not perceived as the respected authority figure in your classroom. 

At this point we are more than half way through Closing the Attitude Gap. I sincerely hope you have or will find the time to reflect or begin the process. This is real and applicable to our daily work at Sigler. It's the foundation of what we do and without being together as one, our foundation will not be as strong as it needs to be. Let's work on strengthening our foundation and finishing these final nine weeks strong, building momentum for our students Bright Future.