Blind spots

For those of us who work with children, it is easy to picture the difficult boy or girl in the class who chooses to ignore instruction or snub their nose at your teaching. While a few kids eagerly cling to every word that comes from your mouth, and the other kids simply behave and act politely, this one child is determined to rally his peers, incite riots, and overturn your position as leader. If not militant, he will at least be stubborn, and the last thing you would expect to do is WOLF Students on a field trip at the Watershed Center reach him in some way. These students can leave us feeling defeated or ineffective and often very discouraged. Too frequently, these children are written off as unteachable, unintelligent, or too rebellious to remain with the group. They become isolated and ignored. However, many of the teachers I know are good ones. They do not dismiss these students, but take them aside or adapt their teaching style to make the content accessible. In working with the student, we find that there are often many external and internal influences that root themselves in the child’s discouraging behavior. Lashing out against you, or rejecting instruction are secondary symptoms of some unrelated stress. These problems make the student seem unreceptive to learning, unwilling to participate, and unmotivated. But once you find that activity, or learning style that really connects, he becomes transformed. At first he was misbehaving, now he is engaged. Once he was shut off, now he is active and eager to ask questions. He was the student in the back, now he seems to be the only student who’s getting it. You found something you could teach him, and you found a way to teach it.

Whether in a classroom or not, we are all teachers. What things have you learned that you could pass on to others? In our interactions with those around us, we should seek opportunities to teach the importance of an environmentally responsible lifestyle. We can lead by example, teach our peers; not in a patronizing manner, or by badgering them, but by conveying our excitement to them. Find that conversation or action that they will respond to. Invite them to a cleanup, workshop, or meeting. Show off your rain barrel or compost bin. Find some way you can meet them in the middle and connect. When given the opportunity to teach people around us, we choose what kind of teacher we want to be. Will you shout your message, nag them about their bad behavior, and then dismiss them as backwards or irresponsible? Or, will you show them passion for your community and your commitment to caring for the environment, gently leading them into practices that will foster the same excitement and awareness? It truly does start with us.

Rob Hunt, Watershed Center Coordinator


Rob Hunt leading tour of Jordan Creek

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