An adult’s affirmation

There she is, a freshman in the clarinet section. And there he is, hammering the dulcimer in the football halftime show. There she is, dancing with a winding colored flag; there they are, all of them seeking affirmation.

Too often, teachers underestimate the impact their presence carries. Simply going to a football game or a volleyball match could be all the self-esteem boost a freshman needs to stay in band. Some of these kids have parents in the crowd tonight, but so many of them don’t. By proxy, all these teachers in the stands who wave to students who may or may not have passed their class, they are the affirming parents these kids need this night.

Perhaps it is even more pronounced in such border schools, where students are often delving into new territory that their parents cannot affirm. As new immigrants learn a new language and culture, their parents are generally happy for their upward progress but also saddened by the rift which language brings. In this case, the students look to other adults for affirmation in their new tongue, and we as teachers must realize our awesome task of affirmation. A kind word, a specific praise, even your general presence of support can often be just the encouragement a student needs to press on to arenas their parents haven’t gone before.

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