Today, Drs. Rebecca Hines and Lisa Dieker discuss an article from ChalkBeat.org titled, Students need "Too Nice" teachers now more than ever by Cara Schiavone. In this episode, they talk about all children deserving our compassion and grace— and not just during a pandemic.
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Link to Article:
Lisa Dieker 00:01
Welcome to Practical Access I'm Lisa Dieker.
Rebecca Hines 00:04
And I'm Rebecca Hines and Lisa I think this week you picked the topic, what did you read?
Lisa Dieker 00:11
Well, so you know I really read an article because we're trying to give readers something, you know that you can access but I actually read the article behind the article. And I love that it was kind of a first-person piece on students need a too nice teacher now more than ever. And I really did, you know we've tried to stay away from you know more things COVID related because we feel like you know people are ready to have whatever normal might be today, but I do think it's a good reminder that, as we start back in the fall we've always talked about kids with trauma, kids who struggle, but I really liked the fact that this person reminded us that you know you almost can't be too nice. You can be taken advantage of you and I both know kids will do that in a heartbeat with those lovely kids with behavior challenges, but I think you and I both I always go for the nice I'd rather do a positive redirect than telling a kid what they're doing wrong, and I think it's a really good time for people to come into this mindset. And she, this author mentioned her first-person piece, she was a student-teacher she mentioned Gloria Ladson-Billings work about how we really need to reset ourselves for kids especially kids, black children, kids who are black, to be sure that we really recognize they were behind before so you can't just reset and say we're going to do the same for everybody, we may need to step it up, I think you and I would agree that we're going to have to step it up for kids with disabilities. I don't know that you can do the same online with hand over hand for a kid who might need it and so again I don't know what are your thoughts, can we be too nice Becky?
Rebecca Hines 01:46
Honestly, I don't think we can be too nice I'll tell you for my entire career, one of my friends, every time I'm going to present somewhere she'll say oh, what are you going to go present on and she says nevermind you're just going to go tell people to be nice to kids. No matter my topic it's always going to cycle back to be nice to kids and it's you know that's from you know 30 years in the profession now, but I think there's some things that make it easier for some of us to come across as nice. So I think this whole idea of being nice to kids comes with an understanding of, you can be really nice, just like you can as a parent, you can love your kids so much, but you can also put on your mom face or your teacher face and say stop. So I can be the nicest teacher in the world, and I was really a nice teacher nice, nice, nice, stop it okay now la, la, la, la so when, when you have that connection with kids and they do perceive you in such a positive way they don't actually want to disappoint you and I honestly Lisa you mentioned kids with a EBD even as a teacher of kids with EBD I was actually very caring and warm and firm. So I think that the challenge is to remember you know you mentioned COVID and yeah we're definitely moving away from that, but now all kids are coming to school with some form of trauma just from this separation of the norm for them, so why not warmly bring them back.
Lisa Dieker 03:35
Yeah and you know it's funny cause you go back to the nice part I laugh, one of the best compliments I ever got from a kid he really didn't like many people he said you're the nicest meanest teacher I've ever had and I was like wow you know I think that's what we're talking about. And I think that not only did I love we can't be too nice, but I really loved Gloria Ladson-Billings work, who just does phenomenal work with equity. And it's an article on excellence and she says "I'm here for the hard reset," this is the title, "post-pandemic pedagogy to preserve our culture." And she said, you know just because we say there's a new normal it's not normal for some kids that was that was so abnormal to be home, to be hungry to have you know oh, they got technology, yeah but mine didn't work, and mine didn't get on the Internet, and nobody knew how to show me, and you know, a teacher can't come over to my house. And so just a really great job of just reminding us that not only do we have to be nice and caring which you have already said, but we really have to reset our cultural norms and think about who had two parents, three parents, five parents, grandparents at home, who could help, who had no one who could help, who had food in their house, who didn't, you know so kids are not just going to come back but they're going to come back back to you know this Maslow's hierarchy of of of trauma in some ways, you know, I was hungry for nine months and yeah you got me food, but, but every day, I had to worry about if I could get online and, and so I think you know this word that she uses a lot is this hard reset that we really have to rethink and redesign our curriculum to not just think about what kids missed, but what culturally they experienced. And I would then argue too in relationship to article, the gap that kids with disabilities had before they left could have just gotten bigger and I think we need to do some recalibrating and resetting.
Rebecca Hines 05:30
And I think we forget that for some kids during the entire time they've been away from their regular school structure, they may not have encountered you know, a single nice person to be honest, and I do think that the reasoning of expecting to produce kids who are well adjusted and nice themselves if we don't model that for them as teachers. I don't know how we expect some kids to learn it, I really don't and so taking that back into the classroom and I, my my one specific tip Lisa. One is to really try to practice smiling more you know literally make make ourselves smile as much as possible as a very simple nonverbal communication but also some really explicit things like unconditional, unconditional giving of something so, for example sometimes you know, we get so caught up and having kids earn things in our classroom but the kind of things that went a long way or me, or to just bring you know batch of slice and bake sugar cookies in in the morning and say you know just really thinking about you guys last night, so I made to these cookies you know I just brought them in before anybody even has a chance to do anything wrong for the day. And I did that with kids of all levels and I'm sure I've mentioned it in the past, but any kind of unconditional you know whether it's just to bring in you know, a box of pens and say you know what I was thinking about you guys when I was in the store last night and I thought you know what I bet some of you guys need a pen to write with so who needs a pen and if we think about even the money that you know, whatever little parcels and bits that you get for supplies, you know, think about what you could do that could be shared with kids in a really in the spirit of giving.
Lisa Dieker 07:38
Yeah and I'm gonna borrow a quote from the article, and it is the frame of being real you know being you can never be too nice, and I think I would add, you can never be too accepting of somebody's cultural differences, and she says so beautifully, this is one of my favorite sentences, "teachers who respect and invite students culture into the classroom have opportunities to expand the understanding of perspectives of everyone." And I think you know that's what you and I both so value about neurodiversity is that once you start to embrace the differences of neuro spectrums or any spectrum of anything in life, the better understanding we have of each other, and I do hope that that's the outcome of this but I don't think you can just be nice. You have to be nice and understand those differences because they're going to be different than yours. My child was gone and I lived in a hut with my husband for 15 months my, my experience is very different than you living at home with your twins and their senior year and 400 people, and so, remember that when your kids come back be really nice but really bring their culture What was their favorite food? What was your favorite thing they did? Maybe trying not to dwell on what was bad, but really trying to lift up the nice part of what they found as positive, I think that's what we need to do in life right now for everybody, so those are my last thoughts.
Rebecca Hines 08:56
Yeah and come come with some structure and you know remember that kids are coming back potentially from a pretty unstructured time period so come with some structure and explain it nicely.
Lisa Dieker 09:10
Alright, so you can never be too nice that's our mantra and we thank you for listening to us if you have any questions you can post them on our Facebook page or send us a tweet @accesspractical.