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By Allison Kirch, Staffing Specialist for MHED

Understanding and Applying Tiers 3 through 5: Love and belonging, self-esteem and self-actualization

Once our students’ basic needs are met, and they feel safe and comfortable in their classroom environment, we need to allow students to express themselves, boost their self-esteem and promote individuality. As educators, we do this through noticing our students. In elementary grades, a young student may show you what they made in art class that day. Acknowledge and notice the student’s art instead of saying a generic, “good job.” Say, “Wow! Look at how many different colors you used. I see you drew several blue clouds; you colored the grass green and you drew a picture of yourself standing next to your best friend. It looks like you really took your time on your picture.” Tell the student things you notice about their art. Many times, young students will want to tell you a random fact about themselves during the middle of a lesson. It’s important to stay on task, but acknowledge the student. For example, a kindergarten student, Jenny wants to tell you during circle time what she ate for dinner last night. Say, “Jenny, I would love to hear what you ate for dinner last night, however, I am teaching right now. Please keep that in your brain and tell me on our way to lunch, or at recess.” This lets Jenny know you care about what she has to say, but you are teaching her when it would be an appropriate time to share. For older students, if they want to share an achievement with you or the class, tell them you will allot time at the end of the class period to share and can’t wait to hear/ share their achievement.

Teachers and substitute teachers play a vital role in student’s lives. Having a general understanding of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and knowing how to apply this information in the classroom can help educators grow in their understanding of children. Knowing how to apply Maslow’s Hierarchy helps us become more empathetic towards students, and the needs that they have in order to become available to learn while we are teaching in their classrooms.

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