You Create Classroom Policy
October 19, 2020
I hate discussing the election. For the most part, I’ve tried to avoid mentioning it whenever I write a blog post. I truly want these articles to be as source of encouragement to our readers, and so far, the election has been most decidedly…not that. But something happened this past week which compelled me to break my own rule. Not only because it affects us as teachers, but because it affects our students as well.
I happened to see a post from an old acquaintance who asserted that – regardless of who became president – it would have very little influence on her daily life. Sure, our elected officials would make some important decisions, but the truth was it probably wouldn’t change the way she lived. Only she could do that.
Your Kids, Your Classroom
The sad truth about my friend is she’s right. Being a typical middle-class suburbanite, I doubt her life will change much regardless of who becomes president. But not everyone is so fortunate. If the last four years have taught us anything, it’s that the people in charge can have a significant impact on those they govern. The same is true in the classroom.
As educators, the policies we create will have a profound influence on the students we teach. Our rhetoric will either build them up or tear them down. So, we need to ask ourselves, are we giving students the resources and opportunities they need to thrive? Are we inspiring them to think critically and creatively? Consider carefully because the classroom policy you create could literally change lives.
Learning to Inspire
Here are just a few ways you can empower your students:
- Model Positive Mistakes: Take time to share a mistake you made and how you learned from it. This not only makes you relatable, it helps destigmatize errors in education. Show your students that there’s no shame in changing their mind when confronted with new data. In fact, this is how most science is understood!
- Highlight Diverse Heroes: The past is filled with extraordinary heroes and selfless leaders who changed our world for the better. Your students will probably recognize George Washington or Abraham Lincoln, but what about Cesar Chavez? Duke Kahanamoku? Mary McLeod Bethune? Don’t be afraid to wander off the beaten path and introduce your class to these extraordinary individuals.
- Stock a Diverse Library: Like heroes, books are best when they’re diverse and tell many different stories. By including a diverse library in your classroom, students are exposed to new ideas and new worldviews. This can help them build empathy, collaborate with other students, and encourage them to ask questions about other cultures. It also shows students that no matter their background, their voice deserves to be heard!
- Never Stop Learning: Take up a new hobby, it doesn’t even have to be educational. Try knitting or practice photography. Run a half-marathon, practice stand-up comedy, learn to fish. Share your new hobby with your students and encourage them to do the same. Show them that they are never too old to learn something new or dream a new dream.
The Pursuit of Happiness
We have the chance to make a real difference in the lives of our students. Just remember, you create classroom policy. Your decisions can drive students to do their best or leave them feeling discouraged. Be sure to choose actions which will inspire your students to dream more, learn more, do more and become more.