As mentioned in our video blog this week, low self-esteem presents itself in many different forms. We are more frequently familiar with the stereotypical signs of low self-esteem—those students who are quiet, sad, withdrawn, or just so clearly insecure. However low self-esteem can manifest itself on the other end of the spectrum as well. Our students who act over-the-top qualified, boastful, or over-confident are oftentimes demonstrating these behaviors from the same root of low self-esteem. To take it a step further, students who show bullying behaviors are most likely doing so to mask or cope with their own insecurities.
So what do we do with this information? Don’t be fooled by an over-confident or arrogant student. These behaviors should serve as an indicator to us that there are some deeper presenting issues of insecurity and low self-esteem. It may be harder to recognize and have sympathy for this type of behavior, but our students desperately need our support, encouragement, and genuine praise. We don’t want to reinforce their negative behaviors, but we do want to reach down to the heart level and replace their confident façades with genuine self-confidence.
As noted in last week’s video blog, low self-esteem can be a huge disability– ofttimes more than the learning differences themselves. Students who live with learning differences often arrive at believing that they are stupid or that something is wrong with them, creating insecurities that can then exacerbate their learning struggles. If we can help our students understand their learning differences and how their brains work differently—as well as their accompanying strengths and gifts—we can begin to rebuild the confidence that is necessary for them to succeed. Be real with your students, recognizing and talking about the struggles that they face every day; but don’t forget to introduce them to the amazing strengths that come with their unique differences!
Do you know that if you can read well, you can probably teach others how to read? So who might those “others” include? It might be:
— Your own child, family member, or friend of the family.
— A young child who desperately wants to learn to read.
— A child (or adult) who has failed over and over at learning to read.
— A public, private or homeschooled student who is struggling in school and needs an extra leg up because of a reading deficit.
My life is fuller because I have taught learners in all of these situations; I learned how to teach them with a simple step-by-step program. Finally, we have produced online training to fulfill one of my dreams of equipping multitudes of parents, grandparents, friends, and educators in the art and heart of using the Orton-Gillingham approach to teaching reading. I hope that all of you will join me! We really can help prevent children and adults from falling through the cracks of failure and desperation.
Our kids are waiting; let’s start a wave of learning!