Teacher Mattie Potthoff loves hearing Geoffrey joyfully proclaim, “My brain is growing!” It tells her that he’s understanding the lesson and that he is comfortable sharing his feelings. They have worked hard to get to this point. Geoffrey lacked confidence when he entered 2nd grade; he would give up easily on lessons that didn’t click and retreat into silence.
Ms. Pottoff gives him room for all of his feelings: “When he is upset, I say it is OK to feel whatever he is feeling. Then I let him take a break (usually with Legos or magnets). After a few minutes, he tells me what was wrong and returns to his work,” she said. She reinforces positive behavior with messages such as “You can do it, Geoffrey!” or “Keep going!”
Educating the whole child includes helping scholars such as Geoffrey navigate their emotions and confide in others. That social/emotional growth helps clear the way for those “growing brains.”
Now Geoffrey asks lots of questions and perseveres on difficult tasks. His energy and imagination sparkle! He likes to dance and play pretend with his friends, games that often break down in laughter.
“I’ve gotten better at reading and testing on the computer,” he says. “I like language arts — and lunch!”