Believe in your students


I am just editing a posting by a new author on this blog, Tiffany Eaton (@votefortiff), and her words really reminded me of this very short piece Chad and I wrote a few years ago:

Believe in students

It is disturbing to hear teachers say things like “oh… my students won’t be able to do that” or “my students won’t understand that”. It is just not OK to think that way. Instead, believe that your students are capable of almost anything if you give them the chance and set them up for success. Adapt the way you teach in order to help them be successful. Break things down for them because you believe they will get there. Change your perception of what it is you want them to achieve, but don’t write off their chances of achieving it. If you do believe in your students, and make sure they know you believe in them, they will repay you a thousand times.



  1. concentricthinking

    Sam, look at how many times we promoted democracy in the classroom. Students could choose what to learn, how to learn it and even when and for how long! They would show us how and what to teach next because we knew when to let them be. This automatically gave them permission to do things that they themselves had no idea they could do it. This is why the students we taught were so dam confident. They realized that there weren’t any boundaries in their learning. When they hit a wall, they worked out how to move around it, instead of giving up on it. I think back to the How we express ourselves unit back in Tianjin. A student, Jordan, did not see herself as an artist. She would constantly and openly admit it. Do you remember her just doing blobs of paint on a canvas. She thought it was terrible. And any ‘average’ teacher without a ‘knack’ for seeing talent would have also agreed. Then you stepped in and showed her how to use these blobs to communicate and evoke emotion and flow through her art piece. She ended up doing around 6 or 7 different pieces (along with countless plans and conceptualizing different ideas) which were pretty good. She was able to explain the movement and color that she was trying to communicate through her piece with total conviction. This new-found confidence took her to a new level. A level that she would not have ever felt or experienced. She finally saw herself as a real artist, she also become a lot more confident in the other areas of her learning too. It is all about having the ‘knack’ to see beyond a blob, at that intersection in her learning a teacher saw an opportunity to teach and a student to learn. That is responsive teaching and true learning. It is called trust!

    • sherrattsam

      That kind of belief in students is rare, Chad. We should be very proud of how we brought the best out of those students, even when under so much criticism from other people.

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