There are three types of instructors in any educational situation. The negative controller, the unintended enabler, and the No-Nonsense Nurturer. A negative controller walks away knowing their students mastered the material and it makes them feel good. An unintended enabler walks away knowing their students feel valued and it makes them feel good. As you reflect on the educators in your past, you may find your favorites to have fallen into the coveted spot of No-Nonsense Nurturer. They pushed you harder than you ever imagined, learning more that you anticipated, while simultaneously making you feel as though your successes and failures were theirs as well. These educators may have had more faith in you than you did and you succeeded together.
As a special education teacher, I felt very accomplished in my efforts to educate my students. Once inclusion was introduced, I was asked to join my students in regular education classes. I thought it was a great idea until I saw how frustrated my students became with the content, which in turn escalated negative behaviors. My gut reaction was to advocate for them and keep them in my resource room. They couldn’t handle this, nor could the teachers that didn’t know them as well as I did. I was forced to continue with inclusion and a funny thing happened. My students became interested in the content, started asking questions and eventually started answering them! I started learning to be a true team teacher and started to become aware of what I had done. I cared so much, I was letting them settle for low expectations to ensure they weren’t experiencing frustration. What they needed to grow was higher expectations with my support. This is the essence of the No-Nonsense Nurturer program and even deeper, good parenting for youth. The lesson of No-Nonsense Nurturer has humbled me as a parent as well. When my son is on that ledge my instinct is to hold on, but it’s guidance and wings that he needs. You cannot teach someone to care about children. You can be even more effective for your students if you trust this process.
During Real Time Teacher Coaching, a coach is in the back of the room helping teachers to be aware of their actions, be consistent and relay high expectations because we need our colleagues to push us, just as students need us to do the same. The training made me realize thanking students for behaviors that are expected was watering down my ultimate goal for them, which was increased student achievement and maintaining a bar of high expectations. Time is an issue and I had to choose how to spend the valuable time. Instead of “catching students being good”, the goal was to “catch students being smart.” Students were prouder when they were recognized for raising their own assessment score as compared to being on time, in their seats and prepared. Of course it is appropriate to tell them they are doing good work, that is the nurturing part.
Prior to the adults entering, teachers must talk with their students about the importance of everyone in the room growing and learning together. Students have a team of educators and so do you. Your goal is to ensure you give them the best possible instructional strategies so they reach their goals. It takes maturity, self-awareness and humility to benefit from this process and we trust it because our kids deserve it. I remember driving home from work furious! Talking out loud, trying to mask the anger with music, thinking how I was going to phrase my frustration with the feedback to a trusted friend because obviously that coach was not my friend! After my evening rants, I would drive back into work and realize she had a point but it didn’t feel good…yet. It didn’t feel good until I noticed the coaching supported my engagement rising and my academic discussion becoming more challenging.
Once you commit to positive narration, students start reminding you that you missed them being on task. Once you commit to MVP directions (movement, voice and participation), they start asking for clarification, which they never did before. How many times do you feel you get reprimanded for not completing a task correctly only to find out the directions were not clear? Precise directions relay intended expectations. Can we talk during this transition? How long do we have and what is the intended outcome? When I say go, you have 60 seconds to speak to your table partner at a level 1 voice about how you feel about the Bill of Rights. Go! These techniques are there so that time is not wasted and student participation is the norm because they are motivated to own their learning process.
In my extensive career in education I find that when you know better, you do better. Like all educators, I am critical of what I spend time implementing because we have seen “fix it” programs come and go. This is not a program, but is a way of thinking with teachable techniques, to ensure the intended outcomes stay the priority. I have always worked with underprivileged, at-risk students because education is a civil rights issue and I want to help ensure equality. Unfortunately students who are in challenging situations have been told too many times, in different ways about the low expectations others hold for them. They need someone to tell them the intent is for them to be competitive graduates armed with grit and academic excellence so that they are afforded ample opportunities in their future. We need to be consistent in this message, ensuring kids know we will not waiver because their success is too important to us. Master educators understand it’s not either/or, it’s BOTH. No-Nonsense Nurturer techniques, Real Time Teacher Coaching and ultimately the guidance from CT3 taught me how to push and support, with a sense of caring. My hope is that educators look beyond their immediate needs and realize what they are doing with CT3 has the ability to cement high-quality instruction as the norm in their schools.
by Marni Durham, Director of Human Resources and Special Education