I’m now completing my 29th year serving as a professional educator. Maybe it’s my age, maybe it’s my experiences, or maybe it’s my own emotional fatigue, but it seems to me that students are arriving at our school doors carrying heavier and heavier burdens than in years past. Feelings of detachment and despondency are becoming more common in students at younger ages, and all of those emotions negatively impact their ability to interact with staff members, interact with other students, and learn.
Schools need to actively evaluate their beliefs and practices to more fully create student-centered learning institutions. Authors Grant A. Chandler and Kathleen M. Budge introduce a student-honoring school and classroom organization in their book Powerful Student Care: Honoring Each Learner as Distinctive and Irreplaceable. The Powerful Student Care model is built on the following five tenets of community (p. 8):
- Each student is welcomed to be a part of our community. From the front door to the classroom door, students need to know that they are welcome.
- Each student is a valued member of our community. In every possible situation, students need affirmation of their worth to the school community.
- Each student is here to do well. I’ve never met a student who walked in wanting to do poorly. Remember that every student wants to succeed even if at times it doesn’t look like it.
- Each student is here to develop self-efficacy and agency. School is a safe place for students to grow independence and ability.
- Each student is here to experience the joy of academic, social, and emotional learning. Every student needs the joy of a “win” as they learn content, connect with others, and discover the best of themselves.
As you prepare for next week, think about how your classroom can fully embrace these five tenets. You and your students will be glad you did!