Students Always Care, It’s just… - Principal Tribe

Students Always Care, It’s just…

Hal Bowman is a consultant, speaker, and creator of the “Teach Like A Rockstar” workshop, “Hal Bowman’s Be The One” program, and ardent shaper of school cultures.

Some kids act like they don’t care. Others will straight up tell you they don’t care. Everyone has kids in class who say they don’t care. It’s common to hear teachers report: “I have students who don’t care. They get a zero. They don’t care. They just don’t care.”

Is this really the case?

Alright, I get it. But right now, every kid cares. Every kid on the planet – every one of them – I know they say they don’t care, but they do. They really, deeply do care.

Those that are they act like they don’t care, they look like they don’t care, but what that behavior really is – they really do care. They completely care, but they’re afraid.

Kids Always Care...pic by scott-webb

I Care, But I’m Terrified

It’s a kid who is terrified of failure. It’s a really scary thing. Failing and trying hard and failing anyway. Being humiliated in front of classmates.

A student who says they don’t care – that’s a student who’s absolutely terrified of failing.

It’s like they tried really hard in the past, and they failed anyway. It’s a whole lot less pain to not even try. It’s so much more painful to work as hard as you can possibly can, to try your very best and to fail.

When a student says, “I don’t care,” that student is just avoiding that fear of humiliation and the feeling of failure. It’s the fear of a feeling embarrassed because you failed.

It's a whole lot less pain to not even try. It's so much more painful to work as hard as you can possibly can, to try your very best and to fail.

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Evidence of Success

The opposite is a human with a prior success. You see, you and I and a few kids in the class have a stockpile of evidence of success.

They can look in their past and in their history. They can see that they’ve been successful in the past. They know that if they work really hard they’ll be successful in the future.

But there are so many kids they have absolutely zero evidence or even just a little bit of evidence. But that little bit of evidence is not enough to drive them.

Instead, they shut it down. They’re protecting themselves from the fear of humiliation, the terror of failing. They’re telling themselves, “I’m trying hard and failing anyway.”

As a result of that, they shut it down.

Instead, they shut it down. They're protecting themselves from the fear of humiliation, the terror of failing.

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Shut Down

Here’s an example. I’ve seen tons of kids in little league or on the team softball do the same thing. It’s a kid that comes up to bat, and he strikes out. He comes up to back again, and he strikes out. She strikes out again.

What is a kid to do? He completely shuts it down. He gets in the batter’s box. Stares at the pitches go by. Strikeout.

So many kids say they don’t care. They act like they don’t care. They act like they don’t care about their grades. But the issue is not caring.

It’s not about getting a kid to care in class. “I don’t care” is not the conversation.

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I Don’t Care

It’s not about getting a kid to care in class. “I don’t care” is not the conversation.

When the kids says, “I don’t care,” the conversation really needs to be this.

“I hear you. But let me tell you this. I believe in you. I know you can be successful. I know you can do this work. You and I are going to work on this together. And I’ve got you. In this class, I’ve got you.”

I hear you. But let me tell you this. I believe in you. I know you can be successful. I know you can do this work. You and I are going to work on this together.

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About the author

Hal Bowman

Hal Bowman is Dad, Learner, Speaker, Champion of Teachers and Students. He also is a nationally known public speaker and educational consultant. Hal has dedicated his life to helping the nation’s best teachers and schools reach a new level of excellence. Each year, he captivates tens of thousands of students and teachers with his powerful message of hope and what can be.

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