Gymnastics in the Classroom

As I was watching the U.S gymnastics finals on floor in the Olympics the other night, I couldn't help but think about education.

As the girls did their floor routines, the announcers were dead silent until a mistake was made. Then they pounced all over it. They made comments like:

"And she steps out. Out of bounds. Another tenth of a point"

"And that, that is a disaster of epic proportions" [said after a fall]

"This is shocking"

"That's out of bounds"

"Because of that, a major deduction"

"Well, besides the misstep, she did a good job"

Now, I fully understand that this is the nature of competitive gymnastics, and I also know that the girls don't hear those comments as they are doing their routines. Nevertheless, it got me to thinking about how we talk to our students. As a special education teacher, I can tell that some of my students (usually those who qualified later in elementary school) have internalized negative comments to the point where they don't believe that they are capable of doing anything right in the classroom. Some don't know the feeling of accomplishment and success. No wonder they have such low self-confidence and self-esteem.

I think that my role as a special educator is to provide opportunities for my students to have success (and thus build up a CAN-do attitude) without lowering expectations. Success is cheapened if the task is too easy.


Anonymous said...

My problem with any self-esteem based on performance is that it misses the bigger picture of self-esteem based on WHO one is! Of course they're related. School, work and the world are normal places for performance-based affirmation, whereas, home and relationships hopefully buoy up esteem for who we are!! Mom (can you tell I've had my coffee?)

Anonymous said...

Praise the LORD for the safe-place called "home!" It will always be a haven for you all, filled with unconditional love from mom and dad ~ as our Heavenly Father has for us (Rom 8:35ff).

As our LORD does, we will always love you all because of who you are, not because of what you do or how well you do it. As His mercies and compassions for us all are renewed every morning (Lam 3: 22-23), so will ours be for you.

Mega XOXO and hoping to see you all at XMAS in this Alsacian safe-haven, dad

Gina said...

You make a good comparison. Often I've found that it was easier to work with the younger kids who had difficulties learning because they hadn't yet internalized that they "couldn't do" and as a result they were more open to trying new ways to do. The older kids come with a lot more to deal with and I applaud you for recognizing and working with their complete set of needs to attain achievable and appropriate goals.

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