Thursday, December 7, 2017

5 Ways to Lend Your Strength to Students

I'm interested in how educators can help students develop resilience and problem solving. On the one hand, students need to develop independence and healthy coping. On the other hand, caring adults need to provide appropriate support.

After all, we have more wisdom, life experience, and emotional support than most students. You never know what they are facing at home. You never know the battles they are fighting on the inside. Life can be tough.

It's not uncommon to see difficult behaviors surfacing as a result of what a kid is dealing with on the inside. Kids don't need more judgment, harshness, or anger in their lives. What they really need is for the caring adults in their life to lend them some strength to carry on, to help them get to a place where they can be stronger on their own.

Remember, how you treat your students says far more about you than it says about them. No matter how they act or what they say, you have the opportunity to speak encouragement and hope into their day.

Here are five ways to offer your strength and dignity to a student who is struggling. It's all about lifting them up and helping them stand on their own.

1. Focus on who students are becoming, not just who they are right now.

Every kid needs someone to believe in them, to advocate for them, to champion for them. You never know who this child might become some day. He or she has great value and worth, and you can help shine a light on it.

2. Show acceptance even when you can't show approval of the behavior.

Students are going to make harmful decisions. But don't make it all about you. Their job is not to please you. We want them to be better people, not just compliant students. So show them you care for them even when you have to correct them. 

3. Never give up on any student. Little miracles happen every day.

Kids who are hurting the most often cry out for love in the most harmful ways. It can be easy to give up on them. Sometimes it seems impossible. But you can be a mother's best hope. You know she wants to see her child succeed. Say, "You can do this! This is important. I believe in you."

4. Value people over performance.

Your value as a person should not be based on successes or failures, wins or losses, how you look, the size of your bank account, who your friends are, or even how much you accomplish today. We need to treat every person will great care and concern simply because they are worthy of all the human dignity we can offer. 

5. Offer a quiet voice, an open mind, and a patient response. 

When you give a student your full attention in the moment, you are giving a valuable gift. Just listen. Don't react. Don't try to solve the problem. Just listen and encourage. Be patient. What is making us think we have more important things to do? I am writing this for me as much as anyone. I can be terribly distracted. I want to do better.

If we build great relationships with kids and combine that with high expectations and support, we can help students be stronger and find a new path.

Are you in a place to lend your strength to a student? What gifts can you offer to make them stronger? Share a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

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