Written by Natalya Ganchina M.Ed.
Acceptance is a popular word with deep meaning. In theory, most educators will say that they understand how to accept their students as they are. In real life, with all its annoyances and aggravations, acceptance on а deep level is much harder. True acceptance takes a long time to master. Here are some things to think about:
What does acceptance mean to you?
Does it mean ignoring people who irritate you? Does it mean understanding a student’s pattern of behavior? Perhaps it means making allowances for a student due to their family circumstances. It is impossible to accept all actions and behaviors in the classroom. But a foundation of respect and goodwill builds acceptance for each student’s situation without ignoring issues. Real acceptance for educators should be more than just tolerating problems.
Do you accept yourself?
It is impossible to accept others without self-acceptance. Think about your blind spots. What you do not like about yourself? What do you not accept in your own children or parents? Why you annoyed by some patterns of behavior and not others? It is often the case that the traits that annoy us the most are ones that remind us of our own disappointments or hopes. When we can accept ourselves as we are, it is easier to accept others.
What do you really think of your students?
Do not judge your thoughts and feelings, even if they are not always nice. Teaching isn’t always fun! Students are not perfect. Whatever you feel is okay, because you are a person. Sometimes students are their own worst enemy at school, or they don’t seem to care. Sometimes students act out from their experiences, or didn’t have strong role models at home. There are times when your anger and frustration get the better of you. Acknowledge this and move on.
What changes when you try to be accepting?
Nathaniel Branden said, “The first step toward change is awareness. The second step is acceptance”. When you aware about your thoughts, even if they are not nice, you became stronger than your thoughts. Your belief in your ability to be accepting and understanding is key. When you keep the goal of acceptance in mind, you gain perspective on your students and your classroom. You can work on your student’s actions and your own reactions at the same time. You can change the way you act, even if you can’t change what you think.
What makes each student worth teaching?
Open your heart and accept your students as they are. Recognize that they are people outside of the classroom, and they have various experiences and backgrounds and imaginations. They have something to contribute, even if it is not immediately obvious. Accept one student at a time, without rushing, knowing that every trait comes together to make a person.
How can acceptance be a productive emotion?
Starting from awareness and acceptance, what can you do to help your students grow up to be happy and successful adults? Think about what this person needs to be the best version of themselves, whether it is more independence, more support, or more encouragement. By accepting your situation and your students, you can focus on what is important – enjoying class and working together to fulfill your students’ potential.
Note and enjoy the changes in your classroom, and best wishes!