Maslow\\\'s Triangle: Meet Your Students\\\' Needs and Increase Studen
May 6, 2011 Learning Methodology 2772 Views
"Students will not work in classes that do not satisfy their needs" Willam Glasser.
I strongly agree with Glasser's statement. It's true of people in general but it's never more apparent than with students in the classroom. There are some teachers who inspire strong loyalty from their students who will do anything for them, similar to a coach and her players. Other teachers have trouble just getting students to behave in the classroom, let alone work hard. What's the difference? In the first example, those special teachers are able to meet the needs of their students on a very consistent basis. While most of us may never reach the level of a Jaime Escalante, we can all focus on the importance of meeting the needs of all of our students.
Let's use Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs as our framework for how to accomplish this. Maslow says there are 5 levels of needs that need to be met in order for humans to reach their highest potential. Because Maslow's triangle can't be reproduced in this article I will list the levels from the most basic to the highest level.
Basic Needs- These are our most basic needs such as air, water, food, sleep, elimination, sex. How does this apply in the classroom? Hungry students don't learn well. Students who desperately need to go to the bathroom can't concentrate on the lesson. John can't concentrate on history because Susie in the row next to him is wearing a top that shows lot of cleavage.
Every teacher deals with bathroom issues differently. I think it's best to let kids leave when they ask, especially females. Even if sometimes a kid just wants to get out of class and walk around for a few minutes, that's not a big deal. Talk individually with students if you notice some students abusing this privilege.
Hunger can be tougher. If your school forbids food in the classroom you must support that policy. And, anyway, having food in class can create extra hassles. However, I think most kids can think better if they have a morning and afternoon snack. If they can't have food in class, encourage them to eat an energy bar in the hall between classes.
Don't let girls use your class as a pick-up spot. They know what reactions they cause when they wear revealing clothing. Insist that they are properly covered and ask them to put on a jacket if their clothing is a distraction. At the same time, girls and boys must learn to interact with one another. I always set up seating charts with males and females sitting next to each other.
Feeling Safe- After the first level of needs is satisfied the next concern for students is their own safety. Examples include feeling free from bullying and living in a safe house in a safe area. In the classroom students need for your room to be a safe, comforting place for them. Students who don't feel safe cannot learn effectively. Every student has the right to be in classes where they feel safe and welcomed. Students who don't feel this way in your class are likely to be tardy, frequently truant and downright contrary when they are there. Look carefully at your district's policy on bullying. You can be liable for a lawsuit if you allow bullying to go on in your class.
Socialization- After the first two levels are met the student looks to their social environment. Everyone needs a feeling of belonging, friends and acceptance and love. This can be accomplished by spending a lot of time on team building and class building. It's worth the time it takes. Skilled teachers create a classroom climate in which students know one another well, care about each other and support each other. Students as this level do what you ask without much complaining but you do need to keep them on task. They get along with their peers and feel relatively content with themselves.
Esteem Needs and Self-Actualization- These are the top two levels of Maslow's Hierarchy. Most of us will be content if all of our kids are at Level 3 but these are goals to aspire to. See the article," Maslow's Hierarchy: Use It to Improve Student Success and Rapport in Your Classroom" for more detail.