Last week a teacher shared a story about a little one who is struggling to identify letters and their sounds. As his classmates make gains and show daily improvement, his progress is inconsistent and slow. When he was able to spell a word phonetically – a giant step forward – the teacher told him she was going to call on him to share it with the class. Though he was reluctant, the teacher scaffolded each letter of his response and eagerly encouraged him to answer. The students waited with quiet anticipation and when he answered correctly they all cheered “great job!”
This moment, though seemingly small, will have significant impact on this child. The teacher’s words, support and positive attitude all contributed to the creation of this moment. She could have simply acknowledged the word on his page and moved on with the lesson. Or, she may have even overlooked the significance of what he was able to do. Instead, she turned that simple word into a celebration.
Will he remember this specific moment? Perhaps not. But he will remember how he felt in his grade one classroom.
Think back to the teachers you admired most when you were young. Chances are they were the ones that recognized success, however small. Chances are, they were the ones that respected the dignity of the students, all students.
Did your favourite teacher call a student’s name across the class to discipline him? Probably not. More likely, she went up to that student and privately spoke to him about the concern. Did your favourite teacher interrupt the students as they shared their ideas? Likely not. He probably attempted to hear all points of view and still find a way to respect the time. Did your favourite teacher talk negatively about her students to others? Unlikely. She saw potential in every student in her class.
Our little grade one student experienced a few moments of pride that will propel him forward with confidence in the days to come – all because of the choices of his teacher.