Does Your Student Shut You Out?

Poor Communication Creates a Challenging School Environment

The social and emotional issues students in today's culture bring to school make engaging with them ever more challenging for most teachers.

Stressors at home, in the community, and at school, result in distraction and alienation. This leads to out of control students who—often buffeted by poverty and despair—are frustrated and angry.

Paul Tough's book, How Children Succeed, cites studies proving that a student's reaction to violence, exposure to substance abuse and childhood neglect, can cause serious and long-lasting damage to psychological, physical, and neurological health. These students often suffer from learning and behavioral problems, which include difficulty concentrating and sitting still. They additionally have difficulty coping with challenging situations and regulation of their emotions. And they won't talk about it.

Every day many face a world that tells them, “You are not worthy and valuable,” which, according to Dr. Kenneth Hardy, expert in working with the traumatized, “makes it hard for youth to know who they really are—and easy to believe they are what others say [they are].” In turn, this internalized messaging, “impairs the ability to advocate for oneself.” They simply shut down.

Unwilling to Connect

Substantial differences in individual skills and early educational background among students create heavier demands on teachers. When combined with seemingly inevitable behavior-management challenges in classrooms, this can create a perfect storm causing students and teachers both to become frustrated and unwilling to connect with each other.

Instruction that focuses only on testing and does not adequately address diverse learning styles and special needs, when combined with the other distractions mentioned, can cause students to become disheartened in their learning experience. This may result in poor academic performance, less class participation, resistance to learning, disruptive behavior such as bullying, and an unwillingness to communicate with the teacher on any level.

Additionally, inadequate staffing and the resultant large class sizes place inordinate time and work demands on teachers that leave little time for engaging one-on-one with students or their parents.

Does this all sound familiar? What can you do?

There is no way around it. You must build relationships with each of your students, which anyone can do, and it is those relationships that will create the desired breakthrough in communication. With a rapport, some time, and the trust that should follow, you can improve conditions for you, the student, and the class at large. This will impact student lives, and yours, in remarkably satisfying and productive ways.

Building Relationships at School with Empathy

Getting to know students on a personal level, begins with empathetic listening—hearing what the other is actually saying instead of what you want to hear. The empathetic listener is not of course required to consider only the other's point of view at the expense of their own. Listening with empathy simply requires being aware of the changing needs, feelings, and outlook of the other, and then adjusting the response accordingly. “You can't control the wind, but you can adjust your sails,” as the old saying reminds us.

Teachers who are proactive and take an interest in their students—what their interests and talents are, what their favorite music or artist is—are better able to navigate a difficulty when one arises based solely on the relationship that has already been established with them.

This is where The Edge can make a profound difference, because the program has the potential to give rise to a safe campus community in which students and educators can have open, honest, and validating conversations about the reality of what each of them faces every day. The result is school relationships based on empathy and understanding.

How The Edge Brings Healing to This Problem

The Edge approach to social and emotional expression serves as a springboard for fostering a student's understanding and acceptance of others, for being aware of and managing emotions, thoughts and behaviors, and for building self-esteem and confidence. More and more experts agree that emotional and social health is important, not only for learning, but for psychological well-being and overall success in life.

Social science has helped us to understand the importance of promoting empathy, compassion, and kindness in our schools and the data is clear: programs like The Edge are not a luxury for schools; they are a necessity.

We Help Schools Overcome...


Please allow us to join with you. Let us help to make things easier for you, for the kids, for all of us. Call, text, or e-mail us today to discuss hosting a free Edge workshop at your school.
 
   
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