From a Student…”I hated when I had ideas that needed to be validated by someone else before they were valued”
When I heard this statement, all that I could say was…Oh My Gosh!!! I knew exactly what this young lady felt because I have experienced this very feeling so much in my own practice. For the most part, I know how to deal in situations where my ideas have no value. Years of “dealing” have taught me that…but this was not about me. This was her…her experience as a student.
She went on to explain further how it happens. A question is posed. She waits and responds. Her teacher, barely acknowledging her, asks for more responses. Another student responds with pretty much the exact same thing that she said. The teacher then praises the other student…never acknowledging that the idea was given 5 minutes prior. To be clear, when a teacher either purposefully or inadvertently devalues a student in this way, it completely diminishes any resemblances of a relationship.
You’re lost that student…that quick.
Situations such as this are ones that kids should not have to deal with in school yet they do. In this student’s mind…”it’s because I’m black” ran through her head immediately. It was never addressed. No one cared. To this day, she has no idea why this practice seemed to occur day after day. What she remembers is dreading that class and limiting the ideas that she shared. (Hello micro-agression!)
Devaluing this student resulted in her shutting down and shutting out the happenings of this classroom…and her opportunity to learn.
I cannot even begin to express how much this situation spoke to so many of my own. Listening to her made me check my own responses and I needed to do that.
There is no “cookie cutter” simple answer in this situation other than refusing to remain silent. Had we talked about this back then, we could have addressed it and in the process she would have surely been empowered to react accordingly. She also would not have carried the weight of these moments on her shoulders for the years that she did.
Perception is Everything
The teacher in this situation could have been acting completely innocently but considering the number of times that it happened, it doesn’t appear that way. How then does a student proceed in an environment where they KNOW that there is a perception that their thoughts are meaningless? How do they continue to add their ideas to the conversation? Who “checks” the teacher when a pattern of devaluing becomes obvious?
What would you do? How would you handle it?
Think of your own classrooms. Do all of your students feel that what they say matters? Do they feel valued?
Reflection is encouraged.