One of the school’s most difficult students blasted through the classroom door and announced his presence as loudly as possible. He bounced around the room at will until I silenced him by suggesting that no-one enjoys listening to someone yelling.
We spent the morning together and by the end of that time, he repeatedly sought my approval, calmed down considerably and stayed on task after booting his Chromebook. Giving kids computers is an enticement to do wrong but more importantly, the chance to do right.
Over and over, I reminded this child and his classmates that I trusted them and believed that they were doing the right work. My conviction is that assuring them of my trust resulted in absolute compliance.
Ultimately, students competed to show me that they were working. In some cases, they appeared insulted that I would ask what they were doing.
Saying, “I trust you” and “I believe you” constitutes my investment in integrity. It caused rowdy kids to seek my affirmation. It encouraged kids to monitor each other toward correctness. And it decreased the decibel level by at least half.
Returning to rowdy kid’s classroom at the end of the day, his teacher proudly informed me that he had one of his best days. While I would never take credit for his exemplary behavior, he joyfully greeted me on my return. Today, tomorrow and for who knows how long, he will remember how it feels to be trusted. Shalom.