As teachers and leaders, we have a great deal of influence over the environment we create in the classroom. As an example, I recently had a conversation with a parent who passionately described her son’s math teacher as being so determined to make sure the students learned math that she “pulled some students kicking and screaming to an understanding of the material.”
I wasn’t sure how I should interpret that description. The image of students being dragged to an appreciation and understanding of the course was not necessarily pleasant at first, but upon reflection I am not sure “kicking and screaming” to an appreciation and understanding of a course is such a bad direction to guide the “kicking and screaming.”
Let’s look at a couple of alternatives.
- Students “kicking and screaming” in an attempt to get away from the class
- Students “kicking and screaming” to stay home from school
Students come to us with varying levels of motivation. Some students are quite easy with which to work. These students are naturally curious, eager to explore new topics, and willing to accept guidance from teachers. Some students are not. Some students need coaxing. For students on this side of the equation, gentle nudging is effective. For others, it may take a determined stand by the teacher to not give up and be willing to, from time to time, be unrelenting in their quest to educate every child.
As educational leaders, we should recognize and value those teachers who will not give up. If we do, we may end up “kicking” ourselves.