There are a lot of things that we are unable to choose. “Stuff” comes our way and we have to deal with it. When you have the opportunity to choose, be sure to make the choice that is going to set your students up for success.
This is what happens when you choose “poorly.” Okay, maybe it is a little dramatic, but I believe it gets the point across.
In this scene from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Julian Glover (Donovan) drinks from a golden chalice believing it to be the Holy Grail. Unfortunately, it turns out to be the wrong cup, and instead of obtaining ever lasting life, Donovan decomposes in a matter of seconds.
Every morning I start my school day directing carpool traffic. It is one of my favorite parts of the day, because I get to welcome parents and students to our school.
I am sure to wave and share a smile with every car that goes by. Everyone deserves to have a positive experience when coming to school. Over the years I have become familiar with lots of the cars. Here comes Roscoe, the golden retriever. I know his window will be down for an early morning ear scratch. The white truck that greets me every morning with a salute instead of a wave. The mom on Friday who asks me how my boys are.
These are all positive examples of my daily morning interactions. Unfortunately, not all drivers are warm and friendly first thing in the morning.
No matter how hard I smile or how fast I wave, some parents will ignore my attempts to elicit a positive reaction. Of course I would love for every parent to smile and wave back, but one non-participating parent is not going to ruin my day. It does make me wonder why that parent is choosing not to positively interact with me. Which makes me wonder what impact that has on the child. Which led me to wonder if we have any “non-waving, non-smiling” educators in the building and their impact on student learning.
Teachers do not get to choose their students. They do not get to choose their curriculum. They do not get to choose their colleagues. But, they can choose their attitude.
I go back to the child with the perpetually unhappy parent. At home maybe they don’t see joy, love, humor, or warmth. Maybe their only opportunity to experience a positive interaction is at school.
So who are we to deny those students that right?
There are a lot of things out of our control. Smiling, laughing, waving, joking, comforting, expressing appreciation, and demonstrating excitement are things that every educator can do.
In order for any child to learn they have to feel safe and loved. We cannot assume that every child that comes to our class already has those needs met. Make the choice to greet your students with the positivity and enthusiasm they need to excel.