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>Time is, indeed, part of the challenge when trying to help raise students'
>self-esteem, but I feel it's critical to make time to write the post-it
>notes, to give a quick, private thank you, to notice what they're doing
>right, to show up for their sporting events--or whatever--whenever
>and to celebrate their achievements, whenever you find them, and whenever
>they're moving even SLIGHTLY in the right direction.
>As a disclaimer to this, I now teach in a small private school and I KNOW
>that it's much, much harder to keep up with this when the number of
>increases. But in principle, I feel that positive praise can work wonders.
>I was "warned" about several students I'd have in my classes this
>year--about how they had a tendency to be very "difficult" (i.e. talking
>back, being sarcastic, disruptive, suspended for cursing at teachers, etc.,
>etc.). While I can't say there haven't been ANY incidents this year, I've
>really been amazed at how most of them have responded to *sincere* positive
>praise, gentle humor, and being seen as people (and not just "students.")
>I just finished my first round of teacher conferences, and two sets of
>guardians (not parents--lots of dsyfunctional families these kids are
>dealing with) asked if I was sure I was talking about their kid when I
>described them in class as courteous, helpful, attentive, etc.
>On Monday, one girl said that her guardian still wasn't sure--even after
>conference--that I had the right student in describing her, because of the
>nice things I said. I told her to come back after school, and when she
>did, I had a note ready for her to take home--reiterating that she'd been
>pleasant, helpful, and cooperative and that she was a joy to teach. And
>DOES exhibit those qualities in my class, partly, I think, because I've
>praised her (and all of the others) whenever I can, and I try to take the
>time to get to know them (starting with an interest questionnaire at the
>beginning of school.)
>There are still moments, there are still students I'm having trouble
>reaching. Some days I seriously question my effectiveness, and other days
>I'm so pumped up because they "got it" (whatever "it" was). But the
>commitment that I made in wanting to be a teacher included a commitment to
>teach the child and not just a subject..... (And, again, my sympathies to
>teachers who find their classes so difficult and disruptive that it's next
>to impossible to even begin to teach the subject....)
>I go home each day absolutely exhausted, but--at least MOST days--it's a
>(daughter of a retired vo-tech teacher who should have written the book on
>motivating, inspiring, and reaching difficult students, and who remains my