Making meaningful connections with my three favorite people.
By Brittany Steen, MA, Ed.S
Everyone wants to experience connection. As a child, I remember feeling very connected to my family, my school, and my friends. I loved Kindergarten and flourished throughout most of elementary school. I wasn’t gifted, but I worked hard, finished my assignments, and respected my teachers. I was shy but made friends easily. As a teenager, however, I struggled to make and keep friends, while also struggling with self-doubt. These struggles interfered with my ability to focus on my learning, and I became an average student at best. I graduated high school with a 2.6 GPA. Based on that alone, no one would consider me among the best and brightest. From an outsider’s perspective, I was just your run of the mill student who got lost among the other average kids my age. Inside, I felt isolated and disconnected.
Luckily, a few great teachers and adults entered my life and helped me see I am more than average. Here is one story I’ll share today.
Mr. Klein entered my life as my 10th grade Chemistry teacher. After nearly failing Biology the previous year, I wasn’t feeling too confident about my ability to achieve in science. Mr. Klein thought differently. He didn’t do anything extraordinary, but what he DID DO was implement some simple, yet highly effective, strategies, which empowered me and other kids alike, to experience success. Mr. Klein never brought up my previous bad grades. He never singled me out or put me on the spot. Instead, he placed me near his chalkboard where he took notes. He made eye contact with me. When I did raise my hand to answer questions and was wrong, he remained calm, honest, and ensured I understood before moving on. He established clear behavioral expectations and followed through with calmness and clarity.
I felt respected, heard, and cared for.
I connected with Mr. Klein. This would be the foundation for my success in his class.
Furthermore, he modeled how to take good notes and apply them to similar problems. He clearly taught how to look for key words and phrases. In public education, when analyzing assessments, we call these ‘question stems.’ Mr. Klein taught us which notes to use and study based on a specified question stem. Mr. Klein also allowed us to use “cheat sheets” on our exams. Our cheat sheet could be only one page, but we could put all the important notes needed for the exam on that sheet. I made and used a cheat sheet for EVERY SINGLE EXAM. I never made an A in Chemistry, and over twenty years later, I don’t remember much of the course’s content. I do remember I learned HOW TO LEARN the content. I also learned I was strongly motivated by my deep need to connect with my teacher. If I connected with the teacher, I could connect to the content and the course.
Everybody wants to experience connection. Is your child is struggling to connect with his teachers or the content? Are you struggling to connect with your child? Here at Grassroots Education @ Elbow Tree, we want to connect with you and your struggling learner. We are passionate about diving directly into the need and meeting you and your family in your pain or struggle. We want to come alongside you and your child, engage with you in the struggle, and offer tools to make the struggle surmountable and help you and your child experience connection and wholeness. Feel free to call or set up an initial consultation so we can get to know you.
You can reach me by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone (904) 559-1944, (757) 287-7382, where you can leave a general message for me.
NOTE: Grassroots launches on April 1st, 2019, but feel free to connect with me anytime before then.
Brittany has worked in public education for fifteen years, and is a certified teacher for Students with Disabilities, English Language Learners, and General Education students. She is currently awaiting license approval in Educational Administration and Supervision. Brittany spends most days playing in the dirt and water with her two-year old, giggling with her 6-month old, and sneaking in a romantic date with her husband every chance she can.