Each of our classrooms are full of secrets. We have ours and our students have theirs. In each of our hearts there are dreams, quiet yearnings, silent fears... and always there are whispered doubts. Great teachers cultivate their hearts so that they are strong and receptive enough to hear these secrets; both their own and their students.
Rebecca hadn't noticed the teasing and felt awful. Eduardo had hidden his suffering well, for he always seemed confident and fun-loving. The fact that he trusted Rebecca enough to let her know what was really going on and how much pain he was in was startling to her.
If it weren't for Eduardo's breakdown in the hallway, Rebecca might have gone on disciplining him without ever understanding what was underlying his behavior. Because Eduardo trusted her enough to confide in her, Rebecca discovered that he was sensitive about his weight and had become the target of bullies. No matter how brave a face he put on, school had become unbearable for him. Armed with this new information, she was able to take steps to curtail the bullying and make her classroom a more safe environment for all her students.
If we ignore the unspoken conversations that are taking place in our classrooms they will fester and stand as impediments to trust, relationships, and learning. As we work to build trust, and our relationship with the class grows, we'll find more opportunities to bring these unspoken issues to the surface, for we know that they won't go away on their own.
Students yearn to be heard and understood, even those that are too shy or disengaged to speak. Listening to what is being communicated by their words, their tone, even their silence, is an important element of understanding the "person".
This piece was originally submitted to our community forums by a reader. Due to audience interest, we’ve preserved it. The opinions expressed here are the writer’s own.