Aware and Share

One of my central messages for teachers, students, and parents is that awareness is very powerful in human development.  Oftentimes, adolescents exhibit behaviors that are not conducive to positive classroom climate, however it is likely that these young people are frequently unaware of how their actions are incongruent with expectations.  A common conversation that I have had with students sent to me about behavior centers around the level of awareness the student has about what it is that landed him/her in my presence. I always ask some simple questions about what had happened. In most cases, in an effort to glean optimal honesty, especially with someone who is not prone to visiting with me, I let the student know that he/she is not in trouble. That first visit is about raising awareness and praising and rewarding honesty.
I recall on one occassion a teacher told me that an “active” 6th grader was increasingly disruptive and argumentative in class. I had taught the older brother of the student and knew the family, so I had confidence that the kid was not a bad kid. I watched him in class one day and saw him drop his pen, notebook, and calculator during class. He also pattered his foot non-stop for 42 minutes. When asked to stop “it”, he responded ” I’m not doing anything” and showed signs of frustration.
The next morning, I asked him and his parents to come sit with me in my office for a bit to talk about how to help him improve in class. I asked if he knew that dropping his materials was a distraction, to which he exclaimed mono-syllabically, ” I guess”. I asked if he knew that he had dropped items 6 times in 25 minutes, each time drawing attention from classmates and teacher alike. To this he looked up at me with disbelief. He was not aware that he had done so. I explained that his unawareness is what caused him to be argumentative with the teacher out of frustration. Moving forward, I encouraged him to take the teacher’s prompts as awareness cues. He agreed, now he was looking me in the eyes and attentive to the conversation. Finally, I asked if he realized that he had been tapping his foot the entire time we were talking. He looked at his leg pattering away, then at me. Again,enlightened, he shook his head in the negative. All the while, his parents sat and watched us talk. At the end of our talk, I asked him to make a deal; we as the adults supporting his growth would do so by making him aware of things, and he would bring an open-minded effort to try to curb his actions at every opportunity. I also assured him that we would not right the ship overnight, and that we all needed to have patience, to which he once again assented.
Awareness once again is an enlightening and magical thing- just as encouraging and modeling good communication, respect, and patience when working with adolescents.

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Brief Post- A Couple Recs

As I lie here reading some of my favorite writers, I thought it appropriate to share some of them with my small, but loyal following on this blog.  If you are interested, just Google them and go to their page- all of them have a healthy sampling on their pages.
Daniel Pink
Po Bronson
Malcolm Gladwell
Freakonomics
Daniel Willingham
Let me know your thoughts.