The teacher sharing recalled that in the very early days of the school year she was having her 3rd graders reading to themselves (SSR) and she was proceeding around the room listening to different children read aloud from their books to get a sense of their reading skills. When she got to Sally (not her real name) and asked her to read to her Sally's response was "Why should I?" After a few more attempts the teacher said, "Okay, sometimes I don't feel like reading aloud either. We'll try it another time." The teacher related that she felt stunned and shocked that this was happening in the first week of school. The teacher then went on to describe other anti-social behavior exhibited by the child.
The teacher seems to believe that all children come to school wanting to learn and open to all learning experiences. If a teacher is accepting and tries to find positive ways to reinforce a child (such as building on the child's strengths) the child's self-esteem can be enhanced. Children react defensively with a lack of trust when they have low self-esteem. Children need strong self-esteem in order to become successful learners. If parents avoid difficult or touchy issues it may be because they have something to hide. When a child has a highly successful sibling, unless they have a strong sense of self-esteem, they feel they need to resort to negative means to gain attention. Kids want to please their teachers. Positive expectations can result in positive behaviors. Providing choices to children lets them feel they are in control and reduces power struggles. Acknowledging feelings of a child will open him/her to suggestions for change. Trust is an important ingredient in successful student-teacher interaction.
Theories behind practice:
Impact on others:
Occasionally, the group members could be brought around to focus on the teacher's actions and what beliefs might have been underlying her decisions. This, I believe will be the challenge for the next time we meet, to help them understand that rather than a problem solving process, this is an analysis of teacher actions and the belief systems from which they stem. It is difficult to escape the "what did I do right or wrong" syndrome and take this beyond a problem solving exercise. Because of the focus on the child rather than on the teacher actions, step 9 in the process turned out to be more of an advice session.