Monday, September 1, 2014

What Do Your Students Need?

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Most students are back to school at this point. If not, they will be going back to school sometime in the next few days. There is an excitement that goes along with getting back to school. Seeing friends, experiencing a new grade level or teacher, and participating in sports or extra-curricular activities are just a few of the reasons students are excited about getting back to school. However, there are students who may be excited about getting back to school for other reasons. 

As your students walk through the doors of your building or classroom, take a moment to consider other reasons for their back-to-school excitement. For the first time in months, some (or many) of your students may find that their needs are finally being met. 

This may mean that they finally have regular meals to eat and a safe, healthy environment to spend time in. If you look at the chart above (Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs Pyramid) you can see that these are the most basic of needs. If these needs aren't met, students aren't able to even think about forming meaningful relationships with others, or having a sense of accomplishment from the tasks they perform in class. In addition, they are far from exercising their creativity or achieving-self actualization. 

Though there are many strategies you can use to provide assistance to these students, the best thing you can do first (for both you and the student) is to recognize whether or not their basic needs are met, and work with support staff within your building to ensure they are being taken care of. Remember, one of the most important things we can do as educators is meeting students where they are at and helping them grow from there. While that statement often refers to instruction, it also refers to their basic needs; from getting them out of survival mode and into an environment where they can begin to thrive. 

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