My colleague interviewed me today as part of her PHD program. The last questions was about how I connect with students. As I answered, I realized that my first priority as a teacher is to help students feel valued and safe.
After the interview, I continued to reflect. I saw that I had put off checking in with a few students in my fifth hour. One student has seemed a bit distant and her grade has been slipping. Another has had to deal with the death of a close friend and two serious health issues.
During class, I checked in with the first student. She was fine. I think it’s just senioritis, but I feel better having spoken with her. The second, I approached at the end of class. We ended up talking for about ten minutes, sitting on one of the tables. We pulled out our phones and shared pictures of our dogs. She mentioned that one dog attacked the police officer who came into her house, and here she broached the topic of her friend’s death. I listened and didn’t push with questions. She did mention that she went to a psychologist yesterday and that she hadn’t liked it. I pushed a little here, suggesting that she try. Maybe she could start by describing her dogs to build some trust. I made sure to end the conversation with reassurances that she could begin catching up after her upcoming surgery and left her with, “Let me know if you need anything.”
The thing is, I probably wouldn’t have approached either of these students today if it hadn’t been for the interview. Classes are shorter due to testing and we are starting a new project in my class this week. Being reminded of what I value forced me to act on those values. And I’m wondering how I can remember to be true to my beliefs every day? Not only with my students, but also with my daughter, my husband, and, most importantly, myself. I’m not sure I know what is important to me in all of the areas of my life, so I guess that’s where I”ll start.
My daughter: I model kindness and patience and I provide guidance and unconditional love. It is important to me to keep the lines of communication open so that she feels she can talk to me about anything. I seek out opportunities to expose her to new ideas.
My husband: I am honest and reliable. I make sure to touch him, even on busy days. He can count on my support and my ear, and I will tell him when I think he’s wrong. I make daily conversation and occasional date nights a priority. I sometimes do things I”m not excited about because they are important to him.
Myself: can’t go there yet
What do you value? Do you know? Do your actions reflect your values?