Saturday, January 10, 2015

Periphery (Dear Katie #3 V16)

Dear Katie,

Community.  It is something that is strained in today's society.  People have become comfortable interacting online and by text and less comfortable face to face.  Although true, I still believe that most people, deep down, want to feel included in real time, face to face relationships .  No organization that meets on a regular basis can expect to grow or expect its members to "pitch in" to the group's success without them feeling included.

No one will reach out unless they themselves have felt "reached for".

What about the people on the periphery of your class?  For some, that is where they want to be in a group, not getting too involved.  But for others, they do want to get involved, but they don't want to impose or seem pushy.  If the leaders or those in the "in" allow them to stay on edges, they will eventually look elsewhere to be included (or for the classroom, it means will find like minded people to act up with).

There are many people who never get involved because they are not asked.

And that is the challenge of your classroom as well.  Humans are social beings and learning in your classroom is a social event.  Your job is to pull those on the periphery into the middle, if they want to be there.  It is easy to let the bold and extroverted students dominate and to blame those not involved for feeling not included.  You are the leader of the classroom, and you lead by example.

A wise teacher doesn't judge 
the health of the class by those heavily involved,
but questions why those aren't involved aren't involved.

A wise teacher doesn't blame 
those not involved for their non-involvement
but seeks to understand & make the changes
needed to encourage involvement.

A wise teacher encourages those in middle
to help in the task of pulling those in the periphery into the middle.

For some students, your classroom could be the safest place for them.  A place where they enjoy learning the wonders of your lessons.  A place where they could be actively involved.  But it doesn't matter how well you enforce anti-bullying policies, or create an environment where students encourage and compliment each other, if you are not active in pulling those students on the periphery into the life of the class,

you and the other students could be missing out on someone special.

Uncle Kevin

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