I was asked to collaborate on a workshop for incoming freshman with my colleagues. We are known for managing our classrooms well and administrators believed that we would be best fit for this particular job.
While planning, we decided to have one of our former students come into our room while we were hosting our workshop and disrupt the session, eventually introducing the graduate to students and having a debrief about his behaviors.
While conducting the workshop there was something that kept sticking out to me. My colleague repeated “how did he act like a bad student”, or asked “what makes a bad student?”. She meant no malice, but there are reasons why I believe we should not label a student as “bad”
An action is something that we do but it doesn’t necessarily make us who we are. Because I called out in excitement and forgot to raise my hands which is a violation of our classroom rules, does this make me “bad”?
Separating the action from the person allows room for improvement. If a child is constantly being labeled as “bad” they own that and at times give up on themselves before even trying. It lowers their self-esteem making it difficult for them to take risks and make better decisions.
We want to encourage our students to develop good behaviors and build confidence. Everyone makes mistakes. It doesn’t make us bad people. We need to be very mindful of how we communicate with our students. For some, ee are their only support.