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[Educator Network] A Reflection on Changing Your Perspective and Attitude

[Educator Network] A Reflection on Changing Your Perspective and Attitude

Even with the most seasoned education professionals, sometimes there are students that just seem to find our buttons. It happens. We get frustrated and overwhelmed with how to reach that student. They go left when everyone else is going right. Jen Molitor, author of The Happy Teacher Handbook and principal of Blanchester Local Schools in Ohio, recently joined Edmentum Podcast host David Cicero and members of the Edmentum Educator Network to talk about shifting perspective, but there are a slew of other resources available that speak to this phenomenon. Inevitably, it is a struggle some days.

In an article for NPR, researcher Robert Pianta offered a list of seven practices for teachers who want to change their actions toward challenging students. Working from his list, here are some ways to apply and develop a change in your perspective.

Watch: By watching students we can pick up on how they learn. See what they are capable. Understand a bit of how they interact and engage. Find what motivates them. Put yourself out of teacher mode and into the observer mode. Challenge yourself to be impassionate. Just learn about this student. Try keeping a running record.

Listen. Part of that will mean listening to understand what drives their interactions. Try to understand how they see you. Try to understand how they view your assignments. Try to understand how they interact with their classmates. Listen for key phrases and subtext. This is not the time to react, just wholly listen.

Engage. Give them the space to share their unique interests. Do not try to guide of offer opinions, just listen. Ask questions to get information rather than just answers.

Experiment: What you have been doing might not be working so change how you approach the challenging behaviors. It is not adjusting the rules, but rather understanding why the rule is a challenge. Are they looking for your attention? Are they responding to something that has happened out of their control? Rather than responding quickly in the moment, take a breath.

Meet: Find time to spend with the student that is not part of your traditional time with that student. Chat in line, at the playground, lunchroom, independent work, when packing up. Let the students choose a nonacademic activity or conversation. Use this time not to teach but to watch, listen and narrate what you are seeing. Look for their interests and what they do well. Sometimes even just this type of activity has power for students and provides you with a conscious opportunity to interact with a student whom you might avoid otherwise.

Reach out: When you know your students better through these steps you can learn about what they like to do beyond school. This information can be leveraged for classwork. Build an assignment that asks them to use their interest and then find both individual and group time for them to share this with you. Now think about that lesson through their lens, have you scratched the itch?

Reflect: This is all you. Consider your own experiences in school or the classroom. What was the best and the worst?. Be specific, why did you feel that way? Talk to yourself. Talk it out with out loud. Identify the important questions that bubble up. Write out your answers. Now try to do something similar with how your student(s) might feel about you. Jot down how they might describe you and why. How do your expectations or beliefs shape how they look at you? Are there parallels? Is that good?

Even in the most wonderful and exciting classroom of students there is an opportunity to connect and make a difference. Always move forward.