Sunday, November 21, 2010

Teachers Make a Difference

People are on the move. More houses are up for sale than in recent history. The fast approaching holiday season tends to be a time when families move. After Christmas many children will return from winter break to attend a completely different school. This is not easy on kids.

We like to think that kids are adaptable. Some are.

We like to think that this move is a move to a better life. Sometimes it is.

We like to think that once they get into their new school, make new friends, and get into their routine, all will be well. Hmm. . . really?

That puts the entire burden of feeling secure on the child. He or she may not be equipped to carry that burden alone. Nor should he.

In a recent study conducted at Western Washington University and the University of Washington, researchers found that teachers play a critical role through their own caring response to new students. They take the lead in accepting a newcomer and encourage peer acceptance of that newcomer to their class.

I was the "new kid" four times between kindergarten and ninth grade. I can remember how my teachers treated me upon my entrance. I adapted well. Admittedly, my peers didn't always accept me, but as long as my teacher did, that made a difference in my attitude towards school.

If kids don't feel like they belong, their achievement may suffer. Teachers can and do make the difference. Providing a caring and supportive environment based on an authentic awareness of the hardships students face makes all the difference.