Love in the Classroom . The Answer to Achievement.
In the first edition of Chicken Soup for the Soul, Eric Butterworth tells the story of a sociology professor in Baltimore who had his students survey boys who lived in the slums and predict their future based on sociological factors. For all 200 students, the reporter predicted, "This kid doesn't stand a chance."
Twenty-five years later, another sociology professor found the study. He had his students find the boys of the study, now adults, to see how, indeed, their lives had progressed. They were able to find 180 of the original 200; 176 of them were extraordinarily successful in their professions.
When asked, "To what do you attribute your success," they all named the same teacher.
When they interviewed the teacher, they asked her, "What magic did you weave? Those children shouldn't have made it!"
"Magic?" she asked. "There was no magic. They were mine. I loved those kids."
It seems love is the antidote to underachievement, according to Butterworth...and love is the antidote to hate crimes, according to the hero we honor this month, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Twenty-five years from now, when a student who "didn't have a chance" is asked, "To what do you attribute your success," may that student speak your name.
Learning to love my students grew out of a difficult personal time in my life. Oh, I had always "loved" my students...but I had a lot to learn about what it meant to love my students. Here are SCORE's strategies for expressing love in the classroom...the kind of love that fosters achievement, drives out fear, and transforms hate into love:
•Listen. It is amazing how discounted students feel because, in our busy world, no one takes the time to "listen without judgment or sermonizing." The dividends are astonishing.
•Pet the Dream. SCORE continuously watches as students excel, motivated by a dream and driven by a teacher who knows how to "pet the dream" to bring about achievement.
•"Hold Up a Mirror" when confrontation is necessary. Confrontation escalates a war. "Holding up a mirror" enables students to see themselves. When they see themselves, they gain both the will and the power to change.
•Work for Content Mastery, not just a passing grade.
•Shoot Straight. High-risk students don't respect you if you appear afraid to say what's on your mind. You need to "name the elephant" when you are dealing with issues that you believe will cause them learning or life problems.
•Demand Excellence. Mediocrity doesn't inspire achievement. Ask more; then empower them to succeed.
•Be a Parent and Mentor, Not a Friend. The SCORE motto is, "Every child deserves a pushy parent. If they don't have one, you're it!" It is great if students like you, but they must first respect you.
•Validate Strengths. When we hear what we do well, we do better. When we hear what we do wrong, achievement declines.
When my son entered Point Loma Nazarene University, the leader of the parent orientation said, "We admit average students here; but if we return your student as average in four years, we have failed you because we haven't added anything." I thought, "Wow! A SCORE program I had nothing to do with creating!"
May you add to your students this year until your "average" students excel...your "struggling" students become masters...and your "students with attitude" learn the magic of love.
Our workshops will help you implement these strategies. We're an e-mail away!