I remember starting senior school (Yes I have got a good memory),I considered myself to be fairly intelligent, I had done quite well at Junior school and I was feeling excited about a new school and my future prospects. I was following in my sister's footsteps, she had been at the school for 2 years and I was looking forward to joining her.
The day came, my new school uniform pristine, shoes shiny, feeling apprehensive about the prospect but also raring to go. Then it happened, the first question that I was asked was "Are you so and so's sister"? Unbeknown to me, my sister had a reputation of being a trouble maker, uninterested in school, with no motivation to learn. From that day on, I was treated as though I were my sister and lo and behold, after just a few months I started to behave as I was expected to. I did just enough and no more, I became a low achiever, capable of much more. My reports had a familiar ring to them "Diane has the ability but doesn't use it", I wonder why?
This experience has stood me in good stead being a driving instructor. Imagine the scenario you are sitting outside a new student's house, the front door opens and you see them for the first time. Maybe you know nothing about them or maybe you have taught their relation or friend, What is running through your mind at that moment?
Sometimes, before they have even reached the car we start to judge what they are like, what sort of personality they might be, what their background is, what their social standing is, who their friends might be, if they are a student or what job they do. Are they sporty or a 'couch potato' and so on, and so on. mentally we categorise them into types of student.
If a student turns up in scruffy clothes, do be believe that they will be unreliable? Do our students judge us in the same way?
How does this thought process affect the way that we interact with them? Is it possible that this may change the way that we treat them? Do our expectations of certain types of students turn them into that type of student?
Being judgemental can be so destructive to the learning environment. Being non-judgemental allows our students to open up to us and allows us to really get to know who they are, not who we perceive them to be. We, in turn will not be influenced by who we 'think' they are, improving the way that we interact and relate to them, without expectations.
I believe that I would have been more likely to reach my potential in school had I had been treated in this way and not prejudged........ Just a thought !!