Would you rather change your oil or replace your transmission?
Pretty simple question, right? The preventative measures are far easier (and cost less) than reparative measures. It’s easier to prevent the problem than recover from it. This was the theme of our PBSIS (positive behavior supports in school) meeting today. It’s much easier and more effective to change procedures to maintain a positive environment rather than rebuild from a completely broken school. This program has been met with opposition, and somehow, it doesn’t surprise me. We teach in a rough and tumble neighborhood. Teachers have lives and are busy and don’t need more things on their plates. The list goes on. Is it so hard to go the extra mile to get to know your kids?
Every time I think of this program, I think of my Eric (pseudonym for anonymity). Eric was a sweet kid who sat in the back of my class during my student teaching experience. He was attentive and respectful, but he didn’t write for me. He never took notes, never completed his do-nows, and his essays were few and far between. It was so frustrating because I knew that he was capable of so much more. One day, I kept a friend of Eric’s after school to complete an assignment with me, and Eric stayed behind. In the hour that the boy worked, I learned that Eric was an artist, a mathematical thinker, a motocross lover, and an auditory learner. “Just because I don’t write anything down doesn’t mean I don’t hear you. I listen, Miss. I hear you.” From that day on, I watched Eric in class. He continued to not write, but if I had quizzed him on comma rules or examples of figurative language, no matter the setting, he could recite exactly what I reviewed in class and could create examples of his own.
In my opinion, that moment is what let Eric know that I was there for him. I didn’t force him to write notes, but I was able to check his understanding. I worked with him on essays that year and throughout his eighth grade year. He promised to come back to see me even though he is now a high school freshman.
That’s connection to me. That’s PBSIS. I’m not saying that I’m this pioneer for positivity and the ideal teacher, because I’m certainly not. What I can say is that taking the time to get to know Eric a little bit better completely changed our relationship in the classroom, thus his performance in my class and in others after he left my room.
Go for the oil changes. Change that oil time and time and time again. Put in the effort, and you’ll be amazed at the results you’ll see.