Sitting around the staff table for many years and hearing the itenary of staff meetings coming up for the next Term used to send me in a mild “internal meltdown”.
Literacy, Numeracy, more Literacy and more Numeracy. And before any Literacy or Numeracy Co-Ordinator mentions how important they are, I already get that..I know they are the two “big gunners” of education but my question remained, every time, can we spend a staff meeting, even just one to start with, looking at some personal development in kids?
I am a firm believer in the notion that if we give our students confidence first and foremost, then they can reach goals that no curriculum outcome has even thought about. If a student asks “Can I?” is it not our responsibility as educators to reply “Tell me how you can…or why you can…or when you can.”
Confidence allows for creativity which allows for invention, for initiative, for expression, for explanation, for so many wonderful, ideal qualities.
Confidence allows for celebrating success and accepting failure.
Confidence allows for self directed learning and capability of assessment and evaluation of one’s learning.
Confidence allows for ability to teach as much as it does to learn.
When a parent came to me with concerns about their child who was in any grade, my first educator’s words of advise was “Don’t kill their confidence and please don’t focus purely on what they can’t achieve according to school expectations”. One student stood out for me in my teaching life, as he was struggling from Day 1 in his school life with diagnosed learning difficulties. Limited reading and poor communication was this mother’s anguish. I asked the mother to simply accept that building his confidence and allowing him to find his “niche” is the answer. Allowing him to try things and accept “failure” as opposed to making him fit in the “classroom square”. Allow him to be creative.
This child simply needed to know he had the right and capability to speak up and try things out, success or failure was measured in the trying. His mother came back to my classroom six years later and knocked on the door and said, ” He had found his niche. He had studied landscaping and just received a state government contract for landscaping the Railway Stations.” This confidence had unleashed a landscaping creative entrepreneur!
I am as human as the next student, and realise that if I have no support system around me when I try things out in my learning, then I am reluctant to want to continue to learn. When the feedback is positive, supportive, constructive, freeing, then I will take just that one step further.
If every child on this planet was allowed to be confident; if every child was given permission to be confident; if every child was taught to be confident; my goodness, imagine the creative world we would live in then!