When I hear how we talk about the inner workings of a person, sometimes I think we're around computers too much. The things we program can end up programming us.
Here's what I mean.
It's best to think of a student's heart not as a place filled with buttons and switches — okay, let's turn on some Credibility, let's switch on some growth mindset — but instead as a garden.
I like the garden picture better because it implies the key verb to creating a care-driven classroom: cultivate. Many actions are involved in the cultivation of a garden:
- Prepping the soil
- Planting seeds
Just as many actions are involved in the cultivation of motivation. Some actions yield an outsized impact on results (e.g., seed-planting in a garden or MGCs in a classroom), but all actions are necessary for the highest possible yields.
A few more reasons I like the garden analogy:
- Gardens are living things to be partnered with, not machines to hack.
- Gardens, properly stewarded, can be rewarding for the gardener, just as classrooms can be rewarding for teachers.
- Gardens aren't simple — they are complex, and effective cultivation takes practice and study. So too with a classroom filled with souls.
- While a gardener controls many things in a garden, she does not control everything. The sun and the rain and the rabbits and the cicadas… all of these are outside of her control. So gardening is partially about adjusting to uncontrollable circumstances, preparing for them, mitigating their negative effects.
- A gardener's work promotes the flourishing of the garden but does not guarantee it.
At any rate, I've found it a helpful mental shift — the hearts of our students are gardens, not switchboards.