Last weekend I visited my parents and we went to play basketball at the Metro Center (local exercise facility). There were several people there (it was pick-up). We formed teams and it was fun. However, that isn't the point of this post.
There was a couple there, husband and wife. The husband was a great player, he had a mighty serve and could bump, set and spike equally well. The wife was... not nearly as talented as her husband. When she went for the ball, she only made contact about half of the time and often the ball flew in the wrong direction. What caught my attention was not her lack of skill, but the way her husband encouraged her and uplifted her when she did well. While volleyball may not be her specialty, I'm sure she is great at doing many other activities.
This made me think of my students. Some are so easy to praise because schooling and reading comes easy to them. Others struggle to remember what sounds blend together to make which sounds. The ones that struggle are often the ones that need the most encouragement and praise. The wife obviously struggled, but kept at it because she had the support of her husband. Had she not, she might not have played. Struggling students need to know they have the support of their teacher (s). Without that knowledge and encouragement, students might give up and decide learning isn't for them.
Although I make a conscious effort to encourage all of my students equally, this reminded me that some students need it more than others. We are suppose to treat each student equally, yet some students will give up if they don't have the extra encouragement. My personal goal is to let each of my students know that they can learn. They can conquer those blends, learn to count by 10's, read those sentences. They need to know that I believe in them, because who knows what the rest of the world is telling them? As a teacher, one of my many roles is a cheerleader, and I will cheer consistently for those who often send the ball flying in the wrong direction.