Model citizen –
teaching boldness and courage
by Judianne Jayme
While I was a student teacher, I received advice during a class that I apply in my practice as an educator. My professor told us that, as a teacher, don’t ask your students to do something that you wouldn’t do yourself. It’s important to note that it’s something you wouldn’t do, not something you can’t do.
When I assign activities, I keep this in mind. I do my best to cater to multiple intelligences by trying different options each time they share their learning. Sometimes we present our learning formally as a group or individually, others we are using music, art and theatre to express ourselves creatively.
My students weren’t always comfortable with both. Some were comfortable with one option, and others still were terrified of sharing their ideas. We had a discussion about the importance of sharing our knowledge, asking questions and receiving feedback from others. They gathered that feedback helps us improve our learning and celebrates our journey as learners. When we give feedback, we do so in a positive way. We are specific about what we enjoyed about their work, and specific about encouraging what they can improve. We also spoke of the importance of being bold and having courage.
I model honesty when I admit that, even as an adult, I get nervous about speaking about my ideas but I trust in my colleagues’ feedback. I model boldness when I decisively put my foot down and advocate for what I know to be respectful and true. I model courage when I begin a conversation that isn’t an easy topic, but a conversation that matters. Most important, I openly celebrate each of them and their growth. We have a Celebration Board for our main bulletin board where students choose what work they want to showcase each week. I now have a classroom community that feels safe to share, that welcomes feedback.
Parent tip: Celebrate courage!
As I wrapped up my Student Led Conferences last month, a comment I heard often (and also in previous years) is the newfound confidence parents are noticing in their children. Their child seems more self-aware, courageous to try new things, and confident in themselves. This is music to my ears! Usually, during the middle years, the opposite of this happens – children become so anxious of what others think they it hinders them from being themselves.
By changing our mindset away from just pointing out errors to celebrating what is going well, we create risk-takers who value their work and their educational journey. We honour them as learners, foster their creativity, and build confidence in their abilities. They become more willing to try new things and work on areas they don’t perform as strongly in.
I will end this article with a quotation to reflect on: “How bold one gets when one is sure of being loved.” – Sigmund Freud
Celebrate your child’s learning this month! We’re now in the last leg of this three-part educational marathon!
Judianne Jayme is an educator teaching sixth grade and a division-wide mentor in the Winnipeg School Division.