“James struggles with his maths”
“Leanne doesn’t know how to conjugate her french verbs”
“Dave can’t use a T-square”
School highlights our areas of weakness. Strong students receive all the praise. Naughty students receive the most attention. Weak but quiet students are ignored.
As humans, we all crave recognition. Some people learn to define themselves as “clever” and crave recognition through the results they produce. Others recognise that they receive most attention when they play up. As a result, they misbehave. Others still stay under the radar through fear of being criticised, being found out as dumb or embarrassed.
The best teachers find points in every student to praise. They realise positive attention breeds positive behaviour. The good points multiply. Students crave further recognition and aim to please further by dolloping the praised trait over more of their interactions.
Many students feel they will never amount to much. Our education system is set up for people with a certain type of intelligence to succeed. The rest categorise themselves as failures for not being able to get to grips with the round hole their square peg is smushed in to. Those who possess different traits flounder.
We know that success awaits people from all backgrounds. The only common trait required to succeed is work ethic and a willingness to continually develop.
The best teachers recognise the qualities their students possess. They nurture talent even if it is detached from the subject they teach. They encourage their students and help develop what the student can do as opposed to point out what they can’t.
For some students, this may take a little digging. Many young people don’t divulge their abilities easily. It takes exploration. However, when we find them, we hold the keys to better behaviour, greater engagement and a stronger relationship.
Human desire for recognition reigns supreme. Those teachers who take the time to recognise will squeeze every last drop of talent from their charges.