I started teaching in an after school program this week, teaching a group of kids from my school who I just met on Tuesday. Although there is much to be done, and it’s “only” after school, I still believe in the value of building rapport so the kids are comfortable and motivated.
I’m teaching fifth grade and a colleague has second grade. We’re splitting the room, with each grade on one side. Yesterday, when I got up to stretch, I ambled over to the second graders to learn their names. And as I was meeting them, I found myself aghast at the verbal garbage spilling forth from my lips.
Thinks like, “Hey, I like that sweater!” or, “Wow, that’s such a cute backpack.” These words sound innocuous enough, but I don’t think they serve too much of a positive purpose.
I try not to compliment kids on their clothes or material possessions. The thing is, I feel that doing so creates a couple of scenarios I just don’t dig.
One is that complimenting the material things can potentially make kids believe that the most important aspect of them is what they have. The emphasis on material possessions also puts kids around them in a place where they are made to feel inferior. “Isn’t my backpack cute, too?” Or worse, “Well, if I don’t have the nice sweater, I must not be as good.” Yuck.
So, next time, I’ll try to do better and focus on the person, not the things. After all, it’s not the clothes that make the kid.