You must stick to your conviction, but be ready to abandon your assumptions. ~ Denis Waitley
As a seventh grade science teacher, I spent time helping my students develop the ability to make accurate, and specific, observations. We practiced this skill through a variety of activities, and investigations. As a culmination to our introduction to observations, I lead the class through one final activity.
Using a candle, with a blackened wick, and beads of hardened wax, trailing down the sides, I walked around the classroom, asking students to make as many observations as possible. Typical responses included that the candle was blue, that it was approximately four inches long, that it was bumpy, and that it had been burned. Bingo. The candle was actually brand new. Using a different candle, I had dripped wax on the side, and colored the wick with a Sharpie marker. The students had made an assumption based upon what they had observed…an inference.
Inferences, and assumptions, are a normal part of analyzing situations, but in the world of education, they can also be detrimental to our school community. For your consideration, have you ever been guilty of saying, or thinking, any of the following:
- That student doesn’t do class work (or homework) — he/she is lazy.
- I won’t get any support from that parent. Why bother calling?
- She/he won’t be able to complete that assignment. They don’t have the skills.
- That kid dresses like a gangster. I’ll bet he is trouble.
- I am sure this meeting will be rough. I’ve heard bad things about the kid/teacher/parent/administrator.
- If I give students more choice, they will get out of control. It won’t work.
- That student is always absent. He/she just doesn’t care.
All of those statements might be accurate. Or, perhaps, none of them are correct. The problem is that if our assumptions prevent us from taking action (making efforts to intervene), we may miss out on opportunities to develop connections, help students, or create partnerships.
If you are going to assume — assume the best. Assume there is a reason the student isn’t doing their work. Assume that a parent will be concerned, and supportive, about their student’s progress. Assume that there is good in every child — even the kids who are rough around the edges.
Making negative assumptions is the easy way out. As Krissy Venosdale (@venspired) would say, in education, “we don’t do easy, we make easy happen through hard work.”
Cross posted at jd 24/7