I know that sounds like a huge unrealistic responsibility, but teachers can help. You might have seen this video recently, from Simon Sinek. If you haven’t, please spend a few minutes to watch it.
This really impacted me, and caused me to think about my responsibility as a teacher. He mentions four reasons for high depression amongst millennials: failed parenting, addiction to technology, impatience, and the corporate environment.
While I can’t change parents and what goes on at home, there are ways I can help as a teacher. To counter “participation medals,” I need to reward effort, perseverance, authentic kindness, and taking responsibility. I need to genuinely reward too. And no offense to those of you who use brag tags (the name alone), I like to send home a personal and private note with the child to give to their parent. Children want to make their parents proud and a simple note capturing a moment can go a long way. This year, I will do this at least twice a week.
To counter the addiction to technology, I need to help my students use it as a learning tool only. Not as a way to pass time (waste time) or as a means of communication, I need to provide genuine communication experiences. For example, on Mondays, when we all return from our busy and fun weekends, I do Sharing Cafe. Students in groups of four, sitting around a square table, take turns sharing what they did, asking each other questions, listening and not interrupting. Learning how to communicate. Then we switch to a table with new people and repeat.
To help students learn perseverance, students need to be okay to make mistakes, keep learning, and then finally accomplish their goals. In my math class, students don’t finish an assignment until it’s done correctly. They can miss questions, learn why, fix them, and try again. The joy they feel when they finally finished something is awesome. I rather give them this opportunity to learn from their mistakes, rather than turning something in, getting a low score and moving on to something new.
The corporate environment doesn’t value people but their short term bottom line. Young workers don’t get the chance to learn cooperation, communication, and problem-solving. As a teacher, I need to give my students opportunities to mimic these situations. I need to give them opportunities to work together for a common goal. Using project based learning helps fulfill this goal. I will do more of these this year.
Teachers, keep up the good work! We have an awesome responsibility!