Inspiration and confidence are not easily taught in classrooms. With everything becoming more focused on standardized testing, the teachers feel the pressure to perform. I feel like, in general, the classroom focus has been geared more towards how well your students score on a test. My recent experience in an after school program that was focused on helping the students that were “low” in math and reading, was an eye opener.
Inspiration and Confidence in the K12 Classroom
At the beginning of the school year, I was not given much direction on what to teach my students. I had no data or test scores to gauge what areas they needed the most help in. I feel like this was a blessing because instead of looking at how well they performed, I was able to see how they learned.
After spending about a month trying to find lessons and teaching these students I realized I had the wrong idea about what they really needed. I also found out that the majority of them also went to math and reading tutoring during the regular class day and I changed the focus of my classroom. They didn’t need extra drilling on multiplication facts. While I feel this was important, these students needed much more than that.
My students needed to be inspired. They needed the confidence to achieve their goals. They needed someone to remind them that they ARE smart. As a teacher it was heartbreaking for me to hear the words, “I’m not smart.”
Because I had no grades or test scores pressuring me, I began to focus on the idea instead of the technical execution. We wrote creative stories, not worrying about how to spell words correctly. As soon as my students could get past worrying how to spell a word, their imaginations ran wild. I could see the confidence building and thriving. On Fridays, we had “performances” from my students who liked to sing. We were not just a classroom filled with children and adults. We were a family.
I understand the need for standardized testing and the stress put on classroom teachers which is why I’m happy I was able to be who I was to these students. While I was only there for a semester, I hope I made a difference in at least one of my student’s lives.