Lead with Confidence–Part I
Have you seen those “pink and blue cards” the ones that are supposed to warn, I mean.. tell you about the students you have coming next year? They may have some notes on reading level or grades or behavioral concerns and which students by all means should NOT be grouped together. Words of wisdom often accompany the proclamations, usually in the form of a face to face conversation where things are discussed that you can’t write down. There are even unwritten codes regarding the need for this type of conversation–i.e. smiley face sticker means come talk to me and I’ll give you the real scoop on this character.
Perhaps you have no clue what we are talking about, but surely you have heard these words before (not at your school–maybe it was in a movie): “I just have a really low group coming this year,” or “(insert student name) is in my first period class…heavy sigh,” or even, ”The ninth grade class this year is trouble.” Really? The whole class? Wow–bring in the parole officer and counselor already then!
What if students talked this way about teachers?
(Well–they do: http://www.ratemyprofessors.com & http://www.ratemyteachers.com) But really, how would we react if our students felt they had to simply survive through a year of having us? What if we had to overcome a negative or less than stellar reputation that preceded us? Most (hopefully) wouldn’t actually say anything to our students regarding perceptions of their abilities–but what is going on in our minds?
Ron Ritchhart’s closing line in the preface of his book, Making Thinking Visible*, seems quite applicable today as we think about all the preparations underway for the new academic year. As classrooms are decorated, school supplies purchased, floors waxed, checklists completed, and lesson plans polished… one question still remains: How are we preparing our minds for the next group of students entrusted to us? What are we visualizing for our students? What are we visualizing in our own practice and professional growth for that matter?
You see, Ritchhart’s imperative has two parts:
Confidence in EVERY learner’s ability to think
That is–a full and complete trust that every learner can use their noggins–no matter what the blue card and smiley sticker conversation says.