Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Watching Out For The Nice Ones

Tuesday Slice of Life can be found-and enjoyed at the Two Writing Teachers blog.  

Some of you know that I have a new granddaughter, born at the end of July.  My daughter recently returned to work, and because I work only the middle three days of the week, my husband, who is retired, and I have committed to keeping baby Imogene Marie on Mondays, at least until a nanny is found.  The older sister who is two and one-half attends a Montessori school.  We started last Monday, and yesterday was our second day.  As we spend the day with Imogene, we learn that this baby has to be the most serene and content baby we’ve ever met.  She is quite different from her older sister as a baby, is undemanding, smiles and coos at us whenever we talk to her and hold her, rarely cries, and only then if we’re a little slow in readying her next feeding.  After being fed, she plays with us for a while, then goes to sleep when we lay her in her crib.  Amazing.  We are all in a little awe of this little person and wonder what she’ll be like as she grows older. 
Imogene Marie - 2 1/2 months
 As I’ve spoken with Imogene’s parents, and thought about her, her demeanor has brought me to think again of certain students I’ve had in the past, both girls and boys, whom we often call nice.  They are the students who turn in assignments on time and meet expectations, are friendly and respectful to everyone, and who also often stay in the background, allowing others to take their turn first, share materials they own, and so on.  One could also call them generous in spirit, and relatively calm and quiet. 
We in education talk about at risk students, and work hard to help them fill needs that are vital in their lives to fill.  We speak of students who cry out for extra support because they have extraordinary challenges; they are diagnosed with ADHD perhaps, and struggle academically until scaffolds are put in place.  There are others who have physical challenges, and take time from teachers in order to be taught adaptations for their learning.  Numerous students take time because they really need it. 
And then there are the nice students.  I worry that they remain at the end of the line because teachers just run out of time to see if they are being all that they can be.  They don’t ask, don’t need, and can continue on with little attention.  I want us to notice them, too.  If we didn’t make extra efforts for Imogene, I wonder if she would just smile and coo and even continue to progress in her baby ways, as she has.  But is that what we should do?  Should we say, oh, she’ll be okay; she’s such a nice baby?  I want to be sure that she and all the nice kids get the attention too, to receive extraordinary instruction because they can receive it so well, to learn to self-advocate, and to add to their repertoire of skills because they can, if someone offered.  Am I being too picky?  I don't think so.  Yet, I certainly know that there is a finite amount of time and energy that teachers have to spend. 
 Imogene has managed to remind me of that child in the classroom that rarely demands anything of me as a teacher, you know, the nice one.   And I will try to find ways to meet those students' needs too.

14 comments:

  1. What a sweet baby! You are one lucky grandmother to have her so near. I love your thinking about the nice kids. I have always worried about those students who are doing the right thing being looked over too. Thanks for the reminder to keep an eye out on all those in our charge.

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  2. You've articulated such an important point about the "nice" children. Yes, they are often overlooked in the classroom because they go with the flow. I always caught myself with this when it came to conferring. I noticed that the "nice" ones often got conferred with less (which is why it's so important to track who we've met with on a weekly basis, isn't it?). I made changes once I noticed this, but I wonder if other people do this as well.
    Linda, I'd LOVE for you to share your thinking about the "nice" thing in the classroom with our readers as a guest blog post sometime. Would you be up for another one? Perhaps in early January so that we can get teachers thinking about this as the new year begins. Please lmk what you think. If you're interested, then shoot me an e-mail. I think this is a really important topic that deserves more than just a link to this blog post on our Facebook page.
    -Stacey

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  3. Oh, and btw, how cute is your granddaughter? She's ADORABLE!
    -Stacey

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  4. These "nice" students would be tickled to death underneath and changed if more teachers took this attitude. Lucky Imogene!!!

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  5. You are so right, Linda. We focus so much on the students who make the most noise--and not necessarily vocal noise. We need to make a conscious effort every day. Thanks for the reminder!

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  6. Too, too adorable - Imogene just looks ike a delight to be with!!! I know what you mean about "nice" kids - thier "niceness" needs to be noticed and validated.

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  7. Too many times the nice kids see the others being treated to special rewards for "short term niceness" (they didn't hit anyone for the past 30 seconds, so let's go to the gym and toss the ball around). How long would it take for a borderline nice kid to decide he wants special treatment too? How far could a nice kid go academically if they received the same amount of time dedicated to just them? Nice kids need us just as much, and maybe more!
    Good post!

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  8. I love the way you connected from the baby to your students, and I agree with your thinking about the "nice" kids. Sometimes it's too easy to just let them go along because you know they can, and you're too worried about the struggling ones or the loud ones or even the overachieving, super-participating ones! Thanks for the reminder that the "just nice" kids are special too!

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  9. First of all, the name Imogene is so darling, that girl is sure to never be overlooked! Secondly, I just had this conversation this very morning at school with a colleague, though we were sort of referring to these students as "the middle" instead of nice. Similar idea, though you were far more articulate than we were. It's funny that the nice students are the ones who need a vocal advocate these days. Thanks for being that for them, for us.

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  10. That is so true! I loved reading the beginning because it so reminded me of how my mom and mother-in-law probably felt those first few times taking care of our kiddos. All of us children are blessed with grandparents like you who take care of our kids. And yes, sometimes, they end up being the nice ones!

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  11. The "nice" kids, the "shy" kids, and the "middle" kids are so easy to overlook. I notice myself being consumed with high-risk students. This is a great reminder that everyone needs and deserves the extra attention. Thanks!

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  12. This is such a lovely post. And Imogene is simply beautiful. I, myself, often worry about the 'nice' undemanding kids - whom other teachers feel are already at an advantage, hence, no 'extra attention' is expressedly given them because they can get by. It's true that we should value these kindnesses and these virtues - and that they should be seen too and recognized. :)

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  13. As the mother of nice children in public school, I am so grateful to read what you've written here. What I wish more than anything else is that my children's teachers [who LOVE them and who are wonderful teachers] would watch out for them more. All of my children have been victimized and bullied [and hurt] by those not-so-nice children. I think your post points out a lot of what is wrong with our educational system - the difficult kids are the ones who get all the time and effort - most of the time. [and that grandbaby is just ADORABLE!!!!]

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  14. I spoke to my students (after doing report cards) about this subject. I was concerned that I was ignoring the "nice" students and focusing on the higher-needs ones. I have started giving out "CHAMPS" tickets to kids who are doing the right thing and then hold a drawing once a week to reward those students. It's time they get a reward for setting a good example for others!

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Having a conversation is a good thing!