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Title: The Wounded Student
Category: Professional Article
Description: Article by Kirsten Oslon for Educational Leadership magazine (March 2008, Vol. 65, No. 6).


The Wounded Student

Please share your intitial reactions to the article and the possibilities for impacting classroom practice. 

Describe the specific techniques that you have used, or could use in the future, that address the questions of "How can we attend to our students' school wounds?" and "How can we avoid wounding students altogether?"

Add Comment

Comment Posted by: Mary at 08:45:49 PM on 07/16/2008

I have always said that if I can build a relationship with my students then I can teach them anything. Sometimes, though, I have felt that as a special ed. teacher, I am not valued as a "real" teacher - by both my colleagues and the students. It continues to amaze me that our students come to us so illprepared to learn. As the article says, " students need to focus on working hard, establishing good work habits and setting high goals" Helping our students realize their part in their own school success will be my goal this year.

Comment Posted by: Stephen Miller at 05:45:56 PM on 07/15/2008

Susan - I empathize with your comment that it is sometimes difficult to make time to focus on connections. I was thinking about my own focus and I have realized that the connections can/should be made from the moment the student walks into the classroom. I know that I can do a better job of making connections while engaged in the administrative tasks and the teachable moments. My students always comment that I am often smiling. I tell them it is because I love my job and most of the time I do. But what about the students who seem to have dedicated themselves to making your life difficult? The students who are constantly negative, challenging, and disruptive are difficult. And yet, I know that these are most likely the "wounded" ones. Does anyone have any suggestions that have worked when reaching out to these students?

Comment Posted by: Susan Ryan at 02:13:41 PM on 07/15/2008

It doesn't take much time to connect with a student but I do not take enough time out of my "teaching" to make those connections. I would like to see the author also include the role of peers more with "the wounded student". At the high school level, peers have more power than the teachers. If teachers set the tone for acceptance and trust in the classroom, students will follow.

Comment Posted by: Susan Ryan at 02:05:14 PM on 07/15/2008

Great idea! Thanks, Stephen. I have to admit, I was reluctant to read the article but it was very worth while. I like that the focus was on math because I was a "reluctant" math student. The article made me think back to my teachers to try to determine why. I want to be sure that I don't do the same with my students.

Comment Posted by: Stephen Miller at 06:24:02 PM on 07/14/2008

Tony, I really appreciate your feedback. I was also thinking about the article's audience of classroom teachers and I inferred that was an intentional effort to address the power of teachers. We hear so much talk about the Professional Learning Community focus, which is always seeking ways to push responsibility and leadership down to the teacher level. This is one of the reasons that I like the magazine because it recognizes that its readers are administrators and teacher leaders.

When discussing student needs in the classroom it is sometimes easy to "point fingers" when a lack of intrinsic motivation is exhibited by students. There is much discussion about parental influence, student apathy, and need for leadership. Perhaps this was a way to say "Let's delve more deeply into what we can do as classroom teachers to create a classroom environment that is safe and supportive rather than looking at the external factors." There are many more articles that address this topic

Comment Posted by: Tony Gill at 04:46:37 PM on 07/14/2008

Stephen, I find that when I tell people what I do for a living, 9 times out of 10 they say, "I hated history." I usually respond with, "You had the wrong teacher." I'm intrigued by your one-on-one conversations. I'm also reminded of a story about Robert Calkins, graduate professor of Medieval Art at Cornell. Every year he taught a freshmen class of world history; this is a guy who writes the textbooks for the graduate program. Without fail, every year some of his colleagues mock him for spending time with a freshmen survey class. And every year he had to tell some colleague that if he did not get them interested in history then, there would be no graduate program in medieval studies.

Comment Posted by: Tony Gill at 04:31:35 PM on 07/14/2008

What follows is a random list of thoughts that came to mind as I read the article: - I need to reflect and remind myself of the power of suggestion I have as a teacher - "the school" is personified for much of the article, not sure of the intent (e.g., "schools sometimes undermine students' confidence in their ability to learn"). I'm guessing that the author does not want to point the finger so early in the article at specific individuals. I notice later on, teachers are finally identified. - Although teachers are the in loco parentis, and no doubt a major factor in the academic wounding of students, there is a leadership role here that is overlooked. The publication is "Educational Leadership," but the audience is classroom teachers. I know I have simplify to an extent. - The conclusion rings of Cognitive Coaching - Am I the only one humming Pink Floyd's "Another Brick in the Wall"

Comment Posted by: Stephen Miller at 12:46:42 PM on 07/14/2008

After reading the article, I was thinking about the large number of students who enter my classroom saying that English is their worst subject. Somewhere in these childrens' experience they have learned that English is not relevant and/or that it is not accepting of divergent thinking. "It must always be this way" or there is something deficient about the student's individual expression. This year I am committed to looking for ways to learn about my students' biographies through one-on-one conversation. My goal will be acknowledge the negative feelings and look for ways to build positive experiences with communication through high interest materials and the use of technology.