This blog post can also be read/reflected upon individually or used as a visualizing activity during professional learning. For professional learning, have participants pair up and stand back to back with their eyes closed. Then, read this aloud to them. Afterward, have them face their partner and reflect upon what they visualized as well as implications from Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.

Take a moment to think about THAT student in your mind. Everyone has (at least) one. You know…

The one who challenges you on a daily basis.

The one who constantly disrupts.

The one who manages to push every single one of your buttons.

The one who’s unkind to peers.

The one who just sits there disengaged from classroom activities and seems to HATE school while falling further and further behind.

Or, perhaps, the one who _______ (you fill in the blank).

Have a particular student in mind? Good.

Now, try to imagine to the best of your ability what it might be like for this student when they leave school for the day.  

Where does this student go? What does this student do? What does their home look/feel like?

Does this student have a caring adult in their life eager to talk about their day? Are successes celebrated? What happens when this student gets into trouble or earns poor grades?

Who does this student spend time with in the evenings? Family…neighbors…friends? Alone?

Does anyone encourage this student to do their homework? Does this student enjoy family dinners? If so, what might conversation be like around the dinner table? What types of television or digital media does this student consume at night? What kinds of relationships does this student observe on a daily basis? 

What does bedtime/morning look like for this student? Is this student excited to go to school? If so, why? If not? Why might this be?

What is it like when this student steps foot into your classroom? Are they greeted by you at the door? Are classmates warm and friendly to this student? Does this student feel confident and ready to learn? Did they come prepared?

Does this student try their best? Why? Why not? 

Is the topic you’re teaching personally relevant to this student’s life? Is your classroom community responsive to this student’s culture?

What makes this student happy?

Now, take a few seconds to walk yourself through this student’s school day…beginning to end.

What insights did you gather from visualizing a day in that student’s life? How does Maslow come into play? What needs are/aren’t being met? Brainstorm next steps. This student IS reachable!


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