It is not found in a curriculum, at an educational supply store or in a university course outline. But yet it is one of the most powerful tools that a teacher has. It is the belief in yourself to handle the varying demands of the teaching role, to have confidence in your professional expertise to help students and to instill that belief in each and every one of your students. As my students arrive in my classroom in September the one common element they have (besides a multitude of at risk behaviours) is the belief that they are not smart and that school is not a setting where they will do well. My target priority becomes the mission of helping my students be successful and to believe that school is a place where they will thrive and be triumphant. This is easy said, but experience has taught me that it does not occur in a few lessons or a unit of study but rather exists in my teaching philosophy and must be embedded in my talk, my instructional practices and my way of life in the school. I have developed a set of teaching eyes that focus on what students can do rather than what they can’t do. That is a contagious approach that will spread quickly from adults to children.
I would like to introduce you to J who arrived in my classroom with a very closed attitude toward school despite not knowing me, the school or the classroom he has been forced to attend. Before I could begin to help him I had to get to know him as a person and not a student. What are his interests, his talents and his challenges? Our journey of learning is now underway and it will have its ups and downs, joyous moments and sad times but we are coming together with the understanding that he will be successful, he is smart and that school is a not so bad place to be. I will keep you updated on our progress.