By: Principal Nesbitt
For many students, you may be the only adult in their life to give them that word of encouragement or smile, so be generous with those kind and thoughtful gestures. That warm smile at the beginning of the day from a teacher, staff or respected adult, shows them that they are loved EVERYDAY!
Every morning, no matter if I’m in a meeting, on a phone call, finishing up an email or just in a deep thought…I will hear a soft knock at my office door. It’s one of my most consistent student! Every educator has that one student… that will make their way to you regardless. She doesn’t say much as she enters my office, I greet her with “Good morning Beautiful, I’m so glad to see you!” She then gives me a hug and as she’s leaves my office…I tell her…”Make today a great day…Make good choices and see you later!” That brief encounter was less than two minutes but provided her what she needed for her six hour school day.
We all need someone who is going to believe in us. Teachers need principals who believe in them and create an environment where they can do their best work. Students need teachers who will continue to challenge and have high expectations for them. Believing in students is not simply telling them that you believe in them. These words matter only if they are true and if you demonstrate them by your actions. You have to walk the talk! You must live it!
It was the belief of my high school health teacher that poured words of encouragement, accountability, discipline, purpose and vision into my soul every day, that I entered her classroom. She was the medicine to my misunderstandings and self-doubt. I will forever be grateful to her for the time and guidance she provided me. It was through her preparation, that I am able to take on this very important role now, as an educator.
We have the most important job as educators, parents and mentors! It is the most rewarding position in the world! As educators, the most important—and rewarding—part of our work is to recognize the potential within our students and to help them see it within themselves, and then support them in reaching that potential.
Steps can we take to let students know we believe in them:
1. Tell them! Tell them in front of everyone, tell them privately, but consistently and frequently tell students you believe in them and you believe that they CAN achieve their goals and your goals for them. They need to hear that you believe in them! You may be the only person in their life telling them. So tell them!
2. Don’t rescue them! If you really believe someone knows the answer, you don’t rescue them and give them the answer when they hesitate. Show students you believe in them by NOT just providing answers, but guiding them to get there on their own. This will communicate your belief in them and boost their own belief in themselves. Rescuing them and jumping in to help too quickly can communicate that you don’t think they can do it on their own.
3. Talk about the future YOU can see for them! Share the potential you see in your students. Talk to them about the character traits they need for education beyond high school and their future careers. Teach them those skills. The fact that you believed they could reach those goals (dreams) will mean a lot to them.
4. Be their cheerleader! Celebrating their successes…Even if it’s a small one!
5. Set goals with students! Setting goals with students communicates that we believe they have the potential to meet those goals! Celebrating even small gains towards meeting those goals further communicates our belief in a student’s ability to continue to grow and progress.
As you begin your day….remind yourself that you are the difference your students need to achieve success. Believe in yourself, believe in your students, and success will follow. It usually takes just one person—a person whom students will never forget.