Good morning, Parents and Teachers.
I heard a message this weekend that was part of a “Parental Guidance Required” series, that really connects directly with some plans we have at the high school related to mentoring students to support our belief that all students can learn at high levels. As a parent, I felt the message was powerful and important. And as an educator, I felt the message also provided some really important ingredients that give us a chance to have success with all students.
The central point of the message was that all children have a fundamental need to know they are significant. In our families, our children need to know they are loved, valued and profoundly important to us. Furthermore, we have to be very careful as parents to love them unconditionally. We have to love them when they are successful, and we also need to love and value them when they struggle and make mistakes. They have to know that our love for them, and their value as people, is not conditional and only present when they meet our expectations. When they make mistakes, we must separate the choice from the person, and continue to let them know we love them even as we hold them accountable for their poor decisions. It is critically important that our children feel loved, even when they struggle or make mistakes. Our children simply cannot thrive and succeed if they question their significance, or how much we care about them, in our families or our school.
The second thing our children desperately need is to feel secure. When we have boundaries in place in their lives to make them safe, our children need to know that they can trust us to enforce those rules consistently, and that our desire in having those boundaries is to make them as safe and secure as possible. The boundaries actually communicate our love for them, and just how important they are to us. If we don’t enforce our boundaries consistently, we risk undermining their feelings of security, and maybe even how important they feel they are to us.
These were very important reminders for me as a parent because, like all of you, I desperately want my children to know they are loved unconditionally. I want that critical source of stability in their lives. I want them to know, that regardless of the nature or degree of their mistakes, there is nothing they can do that would make me not love them. However, I also found this message important as an educator. If we want our students to grow and succeed and thrive, then they must also know they are significant in our classrooms. They cannot feel invisible, or disconnected, if we want all of them to show the motivation necessary to succeed. Just like in our families, the students in our classrooms need to know that we care about them and their learning, even if they struggle or disappoint us at times. They need to see that our caring about their learning is unconditional. And we also have to establish and enforce classroom boundaries that make them feel secure, so that they can take the risks that are necessary to learn and grow.
Our mission as a school is for all of our students to become college and/or career ready. This message was a reminder to me that we will only be successful in that mission if all of our students feel significant and secure in our classrooms. And I also believe that when parents make their children feel significant, loved, and secure, it is much easier for us to build on that foundation at school as well.
My apologies for the lengthy message this week, but I hope you find these ideas as meaningful as I do.