Wednesday, February 8, 2012

We can't, and it's the hardest part.

Check in at the webinar’s page for Autism Training Solutions free webinar, “Training Educators to Do Behavior Assessments” on February 29!

It’s me, Jared Heath, again. There’s something you’ve got to know about School Improvement Network and February’s free PD theme, “Behavior and Classroom Management: Make It Work, Make It Last.” To put it simply, we can’t change student behavior. Here's why.

I know we’ve talked a lot about the great advances students have made when teachers use PD 360. I’ve written about it in many places, and I’m proud to work for this company because of it. But whether we’re talking about student behavior, differentiated education, or test scores, it really isn’t PD 360 or School Improvement Network making those changes.

I used to think it was teachers who made the difference. But that’s not really true, either. Is it? And teaching something that you know is so important and watching the concepts and principles bounce right off their heads is the hardest part of teaching that I can fathom.

When I taught, I took too much credit.

I taught ESL classes, and my students were from all over the world. In one class, I had students from Brazil, Japan, China (Cantonese speaking), Taiwan, and several Central American countries. Having been conversational in German, French, Chinese, and Spanish at various points of my life, I understood the frustrations of learning a new language, and as a student of the English language and English literature, I also understood the capricious nature of my native language. I was armed and ready to help these students learn English.

And they did. I was recognized early on for the advances that my students made. I didn’t understand then what that truly meant—I was recognized for the advances that my students made. Now as I look back, I see that any other organization would have had those 20 – 30 students howling for my blood as I received recognition for their accomplishments.

When I didn’t do well in school as a youngster, I also had a bad habit of giving teachers too much credit—it was somehow their fault when I didn’t perform as well as I wanted to.

The truth is that education belongs to the student. As teachers, we are facilitators. As a company, School Improvement Network is a supporter. But the only person who can decide what to do with the training given to her is the little girl with her new pink backpack and her open mind.

February’s free PD theme on is built to help you give students what they need. Many of our students need the right tools to start building better behavior, and it is up to us to provide those tools. But if you will allow me to wax optimistic and don my rose-colored glasses, I feel that we need to believe in kids just a little more and give them a bit more credit.

I would never diminish our roles as educators. I simply discovered as I reflected on my time as a teacher that the more my students knew that I believed in them, the more they learned. And perhaps they even became so much more, because they believed in themselves, too.

What experiences do you have where your students felt empowered? Have you had experiences where the message didn’t get through, or worse, it blew up in your face?

Let’s talk about it in the comments.

Check in at the webinar’s page for Autism Training Solutions free webinar, “Training Educators to Do Teacher Evaluations” on February 29!

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