Tuesday, January 4, 2011

What I Learned During My Observations Last Semester

This post may seem like nothing more than common sense to most (I hope so, anyway). However, it seems that some educators have completely forgotten that these are human beings that they are working with every day - not annoyances or interruptions.
I have learned that the students need to be respected as people. They should not be talked down to or ignored simply because they are “beneath” instructors and administrators in the hierarchy of school authority. They are young, but they are people and deserve the same consideration and thoughtfulness that we would be expected to extend to colleagues and peers. In one observation, I witnessed a student get walked away from – mid sentence - because another adult came into the room and need to speak with the instructor. It was obviously not an emergency, or even anything remotely pressing, but the instructor, without a word, turned her back on her student as he was speaking to acknowledge the visitor and carry on a subsequent conversation with her. The ensuing look on his face taught me more than anything else I have learned this semester – he turned bright red and immediately began glancing around to see who had seen him get repudiated. When he met my gaze, I smiled in what I hope was a way acknowledging that he had, indeed, been treated unfairly. He slunk back to his seat with his eyes on his shoes.
  I have learned to be myself with my students. I want to be honest, open and supportive. And most importantly, as stated above, I want to be respectful. I never want to make a student feel unnecessarily embarrassed or belittled, whether it is by ignoring them or being too critical or not offering them the praise and validation that they deserve. All I can hope for is that I will, in fact, get what I give.

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