Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Belief #3: "Kids don't care how much you know until they know how much you care."

John Wooden, working in conjunction with Madeline Hunter, said it first, and research, personal experience, and common sense all reiterate that students need to feel known, liked and respected before they can accept instruction. Another way of looking at it is that a classroom with positive feeling tone is a better learning environment than one that is negative. As the adult professional in the classroom you are responsible for establishing and maintaining this environment. That's why we present a strong, positive approach to discipline, an approach that allows for mutual respect. Our strategies are about students learning to take personal responsibility rather than about teachers punishing kids.

Our strategies focus on stopping low level, disruptive behaviors...not getting revenge on disruptive students. So, we will be talking about contingent and non-contingent interactions. Todd Whittaker said it well when he said, "You don't have to like the students; you just have to act as if you like them. If you don't act as if you like them, then it doesn't matter how much you like them. And if you act as if you like them, then whether you like them at all becomes irrelevant." That's why teachers and students using our strategies are liking themselves and each other more, even as kids are being held accountable for appropriate behavior and decision making.


  1. I call it "the power of like" - people want to be accepted and approved of - yes...but they want to be liked, they want to be enjoyed. Until we give our students that, until our face lights up when they enter the room, BECAUSE THEY have entered the room there is always going to be another level of openness they didn't get to. The teachers don't have students, they have disciples! Followers who are not just learning a topic, but a way to live. To teach, to truly educate in the environment we are in now requires nothing less than this kind of approach. Students don't "take" math third hour, they "have" Mr. Gathright. If Mr. Gathright doesn't reciprocate, if I make my class about the subject, ironically, they won't learn the subject. It is about relationships first and last - when that part is taken care of the content flows like water and while learning some math we all learn a lot more about life.

    1. Michael,
      Thanks for dropping in and commenting! I am impressed both with your vision of teaching and how wonderfully you areticulated it. Teaching is so much more than profession. It is a calling! I'm glad you were called.