What skills/traits/characteristics do students need for success in life?
- The ability to work well with others.
- Growth Mindset
- __________ (Add any others that you can think of)
Are these required by the government for our school system to be considered successful/accredited? Not really. So if children need these skills, who is supposed to teach them? You’re probably saying “The Family”. You’re not wrong, but think about it… What if the family doesn’t or can’t? Many students in poverty do not learn these skills from home. Some kids come with baggage, some come hurt and broken. We have to create the context in which these skills are learned. That is a fact. There is no choice.
I heard Dr. John W. Hodge speak (Google him!). He developed a process called S.A.M.E. and has written a book as well as shares his knowledge as a motivational speaker. Think of this…There are certain human characteristics that are hardwired in the brain. Anger. Fear. Sadness. Joy. Disgust. Surprise. But the skills needed for success in life must be taught through a culture of social, academic and moral education, approached as a whole.
- Social environment: How members of the school community behave, both adults and children. Be positive. Be what we want them to become. Some days you may have to fake it. Leave your problems in the trunk of your car. This is intensive work! You cannot punish your way to excellence in a school. You can’t succeed by putting kids out.
- Academic environment: There should be one happy fool in every class…YOU! Some teachers bore themselves! You must have some degree of passion about the content you are teaching and the students are learning. Teach the students how to learn and how take responsibility for their own learning so when they get a sub, a bad teacher, etc. they will know how to continue to learn.
- Moral environment: What do we believe? We are human, we are not bad people, but experiences have given us data, which have given us meaning, and we make assumptions and draw conclusions, adopt beliefs and then take action. Sometimes we may need to change our meaning, so we know that no matter what, every student can succeed. Part of doing that is acknowledging our low expectations. Robert Marzano, in The Art and Science of Teaching, talks about this. Picture this…It is August 1. You are planning on teaching 3rd grade in the fall. You get a call from your principal that your students are all gifted. How will this change your preparation for the school year? What is your attitude and your enthusiasm level? What do you think your relationship will be like with your students? Imagine if you felt like that every year, no matter what types of students you got!
Education saves lives. Giving students who live in poverty the hope and the skills to succeed is so powerful. Each school should be a safe-haven. It should be the key out of any type of circumstance, not a place to fail BECAUSE of your circumstance. Circumstances should not justify failure. Help kids develop personal visions/dreams. Start acting like it will come true. You believe it, they will believe it. Make the dream bigger than his circumstances! Expose students to military, jobs, training, college. Teach them how to give a firm handshake, to make eye contact, to have confidence. Scroll back up to the list at the beginning of the blog. Think about it. Make it happen.