“…but, I’m dumb…”

I love teaching but when I hear a 14 year old student tell me that they’re dumb I feel like crying….or screaming!  This happens more than I’d like to admit.

This happened again today and it was said by a student that I had assumed was a confident student. This student has shown maturity in the way that she conducts herself in class and I have found her communication skills to be excellent.  And yet today in conversation she tells me that she’s “dumb” as if it was an unchangeable given fact.  Wow!  I excused us from the class for a couple of minutes and basically told her off by telling her to NEVER say anything so negative about herself!  I argued that we are ALWAYS learning; I am always learning.  She seemed surprised at my passionate argument and it made me think that maybe not enough people have told her that she’s wonderful and smart.  I asked her what type of teacher she thought I’d be if I walked in to every lesson telling myself that I was “dumb” or a bad teacher.  She understood my point; I just don’t know if I had any impact.

Hattie says, “Know Thy Impact”.  It is something I ask myself all the time and this is obviously the driving force behind the demand for teachers to include evidence-based practice. But this evidence has mainly been focused around academic performance and yet we all know that self-esteem and a student’s self-efficacy is very much linked to their academic performance.  For a while now I have been independently researching the current knowledge and studies about student self-efficacy and how teachers can influence an increase in this.  It’s difficult to get ‘real’ evidence of the increase in self-efficacy and self-esteem but I am going to try during the next semester.  It might not be a controlled research project that removes or minimises all variables, but hopefully I can make an impact and find some type of evidence for it. Currently I’m thinking I will track via a few surveys and also individual discussion/interviews. Any ideas on how to track & show evidence of this?

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