Recently my wife and I took a couple days, right before Christmas, and went to stay at the inn at one of our favorite Indiana state parks. I felt like I just needed a short break away from the world of education. On the last night we were there something took place that got me thinking about teachers, administrators, and students; and how we all relate to each other. So much for a break from the job.
We had finished eating dinner and went into the large gathering area to sit by the fireplace. There were a small group of people kind of sitting in a circle near the fireplace, so we chose some seats off to the side so we did not infringe on their group. There were about 6 of them sitting there talking when they all started pulling out instruments. Guitars, a violin/fiddle (not sure I really know the difference), a banjo, a mandolin, and a steel guitar. A little jam session broke out right there in the lobby of the inn. They went around the circle, each selecting a song to play. What happened next was the part that got me thinking about school.
A little guy, probably about 10 years old, pulled out a violin and joined in. When it was his turn to select a song, Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star was the selection he made. You could certainly tell he was a beginner, but that did not stop the rest of the group from joining in with him. The smiles on the groups faces were so heart warming. Here was a child, playing off key, struggling with the fingering of the violin, and yet the group was so very pleased with his efforts. He joined in on some other songs with them, trying to play right along with the group. They continued to smile and welcome his attempts to play. Why did this make me think of our jobs as educators?
There are so many times in a traditional classroom that the first time students try something new we tell them what they did wrong. We don’t give them that encouraging smile that makes them want to keep trying. Had anyone in the group pointed out any of this young musicians mistakes in Twinkle, Twinkle he would not have been so willing to continue playing along with the others. Yet as educators, that is exactly what we do. We point out what the students do wrong, and not what they are doing right. Even on the first time they try something new. We want, and expect, our students to develop a love of learning, yet we are quicker to tell them what they are doing wrong instead of what they are doing right. For a student that may struggle with school, this negativity right away is a definite deal breaker. Why do we do that?
My goal for 2016 is to try and find the positive in everything our students are doing. Instead of finding things they are doing wrong, I want to find the things they are doing right and point that out. As beginners, they need to know they are doing some things right, that they have hit some of the notes the correct way, so they can continue to build on that. Not to be shut down by what they did wrong.
Until next time……………share that heart warming smile.