As a teacher you have a responsibility to find the thing that engages and motivates the children in your class. In my first year on kindergarten I had a particularly challenging child. He was from a country that had been through horrific civil war, and was continuing to work through some of the worst cases of human rights violations that I have ever heard of. The story of his past brought me to tears when I heard it for the first time. His mother had fled their home country while pregnant with my student. On the way to a refugee camp her entire family was murdered, but somehow she managed to escape with her unborn child. The child was born in a refugee camp and I can barely imagine the type of things that he was exposed to in the early years of his life. Somehow he and his mother made it to Australian shores and received refugee status.
When this child arrived at school he, as you would expect, displayed very challenging behaviour. He would punch other students to get his way and he stole items from the school that he liked. The student simply could not appropriately settle into the school environment. I didn’t know how to cope with this child, how to manage his behaviour or how to get him to relate to other students. My supervisor at the time advised me to design an Individual Learning Plan (ILP) for him so that I could find out the things that he would respond to best. After weeks of trying different approaches and behaviour management strategies I began to feel frustrated that I would never find the thing that engaged him.
Then one day we were doing a lesson using instruments and talking about beat and rhythm in songs. Out of nowhere the student began dancing and performing his own responses to music. He smiled for the first time in my class and I learnt that he, just like all of the other students in my class, had talent that was waiting to be discovered.
This story highlights the importance of individualising your lessons and the power in finding the things that motivate and engage each and every student in your class. As an educator you have the responsibility and privilege of creating stimulating and engaging learning environments for your class. Every single student in your class has talents and has the capacity to excel in a number of areas.