Some days it’s not about making the huge things happen. They will happen one day. I believe that. All of my students are wonderful people, who will go on to live wonderful lives. They are capable of doing anything and being anything that they want to be. I know that, and I tell them often.
But some days, are difficult days. Some days it’s hard for them to just put one foot over the threshold and enter the building. Some days they are tired because they’ve lain awake all night the night before not being able to sleep. Some days they are upset because traffic on the way to school alters their routine. And some days they are worried that the work will just be too hard.
There are a million and one things that can cause disruption. Some of those things my students cope with, some are just too hard. And that’s why we have to recognise not only their academic achievements, or their ability to get through a day without a meltdown, or even their ability to be kind. Instead we have to focus on the tiny things, the here and now, this very minute.
So each day I am thankful for the small things. I am grateful when my students walk through the door each morning. I am happy when they get angry but manage to turn it back around. I am happy when someone looks at me when they ask for something. I’m happy when someone puts up their hand to answer a question. I’m happy when someone runs over to show me something they are proud of. Each day there are so many things my students do that make me proud. Each day I leave the building with the good far outweighing the negative things that have happened.
When differentiating for students who struggle to regulate their emotions, we need not only to change our actions but also to change the way we think. We need to have high expectations, but we also need recognise the small things are sometimes worth as much as the large ones. We need to be proud of our students every day, on the days when things go well, but even more so on the days when they go less well.
So next time a student’s behaviour challenges you. Try to notice each day the positive things they do. Noticing the small things won’t change the world, but it will change how you see it. And if we can change how we see things, it helps us to believe that we can change things for our students. And that belief is important. Give it a try, I promise it works…