Sunday, September 1, 2013

You're Always Good

Every school year, I hear the same question from students.  

"Was I good today?"

And every year, I give the same answer.  Over.  And over.  And over again.

"You are always good.  Your choices may not always be good.  But you are always a good person."

What is it about our world that constantly connects kids' behaviors to their identities as people?  You "get in trouble at school", so you are bad.  You make a mistake = bad person.

So every year, it takes months for students to understand that "Was I good today?" is not an acceptable question in our classroom.

Here's a typical scenario that happens with my students now that I have looped with them to 3rd grade.

Student: "Was I good today?"
Me: (I give them a *look*.)
Student: (practically rolling eyes) "Ok, I mean, were my choices good today?"
Me: "What do you think?"

I smile at these conversations.  Not only because they amuse me, but because my heart feels happy to know these kids are starting to understand that their behaviors don't change their identities as good kids.

Do they understand the differences between guilt and shame yet?  Not yet.
Do they understand how this distinction can impact our feelings of self-worth?  Probably not.

It's such a small, but important distinction.  You're always good!  Just work on those choices.

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