Friday, October 18, 2013

Year 4: Week 7 – Good Intentions

It’s common to tell kids that it’s their actions that we dislike, not who they are as a person. While this is an important message, I’m finding that embracing the action and more importantly having faith in students' intentions helps us speak more directly to our students. 

I held one of my third graders after class earlier this week because he was making funny faces during an activity. I asked him what he was trying to do. He was worried about being in trouble so he didn’t respond.

“It looks to me you were trying to make other people laugh,” I told him.

“No, I wasn’t,” he replied.

“Well, I really like people who make other people laugh, I love making people laugh, it’s a lot fun, so it’s not a bad thing,” I explained.

“I guess I was trying to make people laugh,” he said.

“That’s great, I like that about you, the problem wasn’t that you were trying to make people laugh, you just did it at the wrong time, which instead of being funny, ended up being rude.”

I told my 5th grade students that the vast majority of things that they get in trouble for are things that they do not do with bad intentions. Most of these things are stuff that really aren’t bad by themselves, it’s mostly about timing.

When I talk to kids about speaking out of turn, I almost always follow it up with reminding them how much I want to hear what they have to say, I just can’t have a conversation when they are speaking out of turn.

It’s challenging for students to understand how something that they do that they don’t intend to be bad can get them in trouble. That’s a harsh reality but it’s also affirming.

Our intentions are at the root of our interactions with the world. If we put faith in these intentions, then we are putting faith in children themselves. If we can see the actions, however inappropriate, as expressions of these longings to know others better and make ourselves known, we find ourselves in conversations with students built on a foundation of belief that they are a good person.

In the same way that we should never question the intentions of our co-workers, we should never question the intentions of our students. They deserve that level of respect. Of course, it’s important in these conversations to help students understand that your intentions as a teacher are not to get them in trouble but to help them grow as a student and a person.

We all need to find a way to "love the sinner," and maybe it's in the intentions that we find the student we can learn to love. 

No comments:

Post a Comment