Friday, October 18, 2013

Confronting our Can'ts

Very few words can terminate one's ability. All too often in education when we fail to achieve our intended result, we rush to believe that the task is impossible. We jump to rash diagnoses such as:

  • He can't read. 
  • She can't sit still and focus. 
  • They can't multiply. 
  • These kids can't write. 

Even worse, when we allow thoughts like these to enter our minds, we automatically disable the belief in ourselves to close the gap. We say things like:

  • I can't teach him.
  • I can't reach her.
  • We can't truly help all kids. 

And when these statements enter our minds and leave our lips, they become a self-fulfilling prophecy. 

Now, let's analyze the statements above for a second and synthesize the word, can't. Do we really believe so little in our own abilities to educate kids that we honestly embrace the thought that these kids can't learn to read, write, sit still and multiply?  Even worse, do we allow these statements to condemn these kids to the lower bar of expectations? 

Can't is such a crippling word. It halts progress. It preserves the status quo. It allows opportunities to never actualize because not only have our beliefs disabled our own abilities. We have crippled all hope for kids who in reality presently struggle with learning.

So here is what I recommend.

 If Can't is such a powerful word, let's use it to our advantage. How about we all rise up and use these 4 strategies to cripple the naysayers and hope-killers. 

1. Cancel Can't from your Language all Together
Our thoughts become our words. Our words become our actions.  Our actions become our habit, and our habits become our character. If we refuse to allow can't to enter our thoughts, it will never be allowed into our responses to difficult situations. 

2.  Analyze the Can't 
People say can't when they don't know what to do. In most cases, what they really mean is the following: this kid struggles with something, and I don't know what to do for him. Leaders, who believe in the power of can, help Can'ters identify the point at which they don't know how to respond.  Then, they help them develop a plan to address the problem. 

3. Nullify Can't with a Can't of your Own
Negative people drive me crazy. Can't seems to roll out of their mouth at every difficult turn. Leaders must step up and tell them that Can't will not be a part of our system. Can'ters can not be allowed to use their disabling attitudes to hold us back, impede our efforts and stifle progress any longer. 

Can We Do This?

Yes we can.  Of course, kids are behind. Sure, they lack behavioral controls, and yes, they don't know how to do things. That's why they come to school. They come because they can't, and they are counting on you and me to turn their Can't into a resounding Can. It won't happen until we transform their Disabler of Can't into an Enabler of Can

Can't never could and never will help a kid. So what can you do about it?

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