When your school’s culture is based on trusting relationships, students will feel safe enough to come to you when they feel something is not right. They may not know the reason why they feel uncomfortable, but they will know when they don’t feel good or safe. And they will come and ask you for help. When that happens, you will know that your efforts to support their mental health are working. And you will have a deep responsibility to listen to them and address their concerns in a way that respects both the students and the staff member involved.
In Chapter 4 of my upcoming book I talk about having a trusted adult, but also about the skill building of resilience. In my list of resources, you will find The Poverty Problem by Horacio Sanchez. I was blessed to have several messaged conversations with him after the release of his book.
“Promoting a perception of a positive relationship with an adult at school establishes the one universal protective factor found in people who overcame risk in their lives—the belief that an adult outside the family cared about them.”—pg.145, Chapter 10 of The Poverty Problem
Over the years so much research has went into the how, what, when and why for teaching and learning. We have seen our educational system fail to meet the expected levels many times and rally to see achievements. The many factors to consider when our children enter our classrooms is enormous. It can be overwhelming for all of us, but knowing we need to address the needs in our educational system should be a priority for everyone.
Abraham Maslow's "Hierarchy of Needs" is a significant framework for understanding human needs, ranging from the most basic to the advanced. It emphasizes that people must satisfy their basic needs before moving to higher-level ones. However, it's not necessary to fulfill every need entirely to progress. For example, slight hunger doesn't hinder learning, but chronic hunger is a significant issue.
Maslow's hierarchy comprises physiological, safety, love and belonging, esteem, and self-actualization needs. They can be divided into deficiency needs (which worsen with time) and growth needs. Deficiency needs become more motivating as they intensify, like extreme hunger driving anyone to eat anything. Self-actualization, however, is intrinsic and not characterized by lack.
Throughout life and even within a day, individuals can move up and down the pyramid. External factors like hunger or social incidents can disrupt this progression. In the context of addressing such issues, Chapter 10 of "The Poverty Problem" focuses on building resiliency by promoting protective factors and reinforcing behavior with dopamine, a key element in forming new habits. The amygdala's values of safety, love, and success play a crucial role in emotional responses. The "Two Rules Philosophy" aligns with Maslow's theory, emphasizing feeling good and safe, which are essential for addressing challenges and promoting lifelong success.
The Poverty Problem is a book I have read, reviewed, placed in my resources, and continue to utilize. The importance of understanding the need to address the individual needs of students is an essential piece. Reading is a priority; expanding vocabulary and allowing students to learn to engage in regular communication supports the needed growth. Coming from a family who had difficulties with reading, not knowing the vocabulary, and working to understand new things, you realize how important these skills are.
Please check out The Poverty Problem by Horacio Sanchez, you’ll find how Neuroscience teaches us how we are wired. In addition, have support to increase students’ perseverance, confidence, understanding of self and a companion to Two Rules.