Sunday, March 6, 2016

Focusing on the Good {#SOL16 Day 6}

As teachers, we often times feel (or are told) that our job is to "fix" our students, to help them be perfect readers and writers, mathematicians or community citizens.

As if they are broken.

In our jobs as teachers, we tend to focus on what our students are doing wrong. We bring out our teacherly red pens and start marking away.  The result is that students often leave deflated,  having lost confidence and any hope of having done something good.

It is certainly NOT our intention to do this to our students.  Perhaps the editor in all of us was ingrained in our teacher brains as a result of our own interactions with our teachers when we were kids.  Perhaps we feel the urgent pressure to make everything 'right' in order to meet certain expectations or pass certain tests for fear of what might happen if we don't.

I'm not sure....but I'm certainly trying to be more aware of it.

Last week, my school began our Running Start program.  Every Friday, our 4th graders get together with the 1st graders and we listen to them read for a half hour.

As I was listening to one young reader, the teacher in me was hearing the miscues and mispronunciations.  I wanted to help.  I wanted correct.  I wanted to step in and point out the mistakes.

But I didn't.

Instead, I complimented him on his attempts at using expression for the different characters.

I noticed his great effort at sounding out a word and told him so.

I told him how wonderful it was that he went back and reread a sentence when he realized he missed a word.

As this boy sat next to me, I noticed that he began to sit a little taller, puff out his chest a little more, and read with much more gusto.  He began catching his own errors and fixed them without any direction from me.  He wanted to read well...and he did!

Focusing on the good made this reading time much more fun for both the student and me. He left our reading time a much more confident and probably even a bit more capable.

This probably wouldn't have happened if I had brought out my teacherly red pen instead of my virtual sticker sheet.

I need to do this more often.  My students need -- and deserve -- this.




11 comments:

  1. We need to start where they are, right? It is amazing how important it is to the lesson that we tell them where they are is okay too.

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  2. I understand this tendency completely and have to stop myself often. Especially with my students' writing. I need to be more aware of and point out the good.

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  3. I understand this tendency completely and have to stop myself often. Especially with my students' writing. I need to be more aware of and point out the good.

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  4. You did such a good job at capturing the scene of young readers and reactions to compliments!
    I have conference cards I leave with students and at the top of the card is the space for a compliment. That way, I remember to lead with a compliment. When people read my own writing, it's the first thing I read. I get to the criticisms later. :)

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  5. You did such a good job at capturing the scene of young readers and reactions to compliments!
    I have conference cards I leave with students and at the top of the card is the space for a compliment. That way, I remember to lead with a compliment. When people read my own writing, it's the first thing I read. I get to the criticisms later. :)

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  6. Love this post! So many important ideas to remember.

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  7. I wish "looking for good" was one of the main messages of teacher and parent education. it makes such a difference to the growing readers and writers when an adults notice and comment on the positive.

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  8. I think many teachers have to work really hard to avoid that red pen. I also believe we do it, because of our experiences growing up with teachers who used a red pen too. But when we remember the positives, like you did, it sure makes teaching a lot more fun. That is one reason why I never grade anything in red! Great thoughts today.

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  9. Yes! Yes! Yes! This is what teachers should do...love that you shared this post!
    My blog site is aggiekesler.wordpress.com

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  10. It's that moment when we stop and think about our choice that helps us appreciate these moments and resist the red pen. What a precious story! Thank you!

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  11. All so true! I have found the same thing with my students as well. I want so badly for them to do well that sometimes I find myself correcting too much. It's amazing how well they end up doing when they get more confidence in what they're doing already than being corrected! :)

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