Monthly Article Archives: September 2018

Microaffirmations in Schools and BeyondRobert Brooks, Ph.D.

I have devoted many of my past September articles to themes related to education and school climate, especially since August and the beginning of September herald the start of a new school year.  It is also a period during which I have had the pleasure of being the opening day speaker in a number of school districts.  In my presentations I emphasize the importance of insuring from the beginning of the school year that all students and staff feel welcome and connected in the school setting.  The experience of alienation compromises how effectively teachers teach and students learn. I share with audiences how seemingly small gestures on the part of a staff member can reinforce a belief in students that we truly care about them—an essential belief if learning is to take place.  I once heard a statement that has remained with me since: “Students don’t care what you know until they first know you care.” In interviews I have conducted with students, examples of these small gestures include being greeted each morning by their name, a smile from a staff member, hearing “I hope you’re feeling better; we missed you” after being absent for several days because of illness. 

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