Sunday, January 19, 2014

Celebrating Uncommon Thinking

We all have these students. The ones who can't sit still. The ones who have their own agenda and their own way of doing things. They are rebels. They are trouble makers. These are the kids who don't just think outside of the box, they simply don't acknowledge the existence of a box in the first place. They're called "weird" or "crazy" by both students and adults. These students challenge the status quo and are typically bored in the traditional classroom setting. They also have the ability to melt your heart and drive you crazy, all in a matter of seconds. Sadly, many of our institutions are structured in such a way to encourage these students to conform to some acceptable behavior code and culture. 

Now, don't get me wrong.  I'm not against behavior interventions to modify student behavior. But, the students I'm talking about don't need a behavior chart or an intervention. They need to be heard. They need to be encouraged. They need the freedom to be them. They do not need to be changed. 

I also love and appreciate a well-structured, organized classroom. However, organization which requires everyone to be the same, and do the same, limits our potential to unveil and encourage the kind of experiences that lead to student innovation and accomplishment. Fair isn't always everyone getting the same thing. Fair is everyone getting what they need. We need to celebrate uncommon thinking, allowing differences to enhance the culture of the classroom. 

The students who may have what some call "crazy" ideas or the ones who feel the need to break a rule for a good cause; those are the students who are going to change things. They will do spectacular things in their lifetime. Don't you want to be the one they always remember as the teacher who just let them be who they are? I know I do.