I don’t need your help (but really, I do)

Have a listen or read below
Some road trip music and wide country roads
Image of person in car looking at road map. Photo by Dominika Roseclay from Pexels

So, I told you about my driving dilemmas last week and how my immediate solution, though limited, was to visit the places on my ‘to see’ list using public transport. Easier said then done. I realised that this involved long travel times to get to relatively short distances, multiple transfers between trains, buses, and taxis, and having to get up ridiculously early on a weekend morning to go anywhere (and those of you who know me, know I don’t do mornings well!). And to top it off, I’d then have to do an overnight as there are often no suitable return times that day adding extra expenses to the trip. Barrier after barrier after barrier, lots of frustration, followed by disappointment, then resignation-I just won’t go there. Not the fulfilling travel experience I want.

But then came the kind offers from people I’ve met to drive me. Perfect solution, right? Nope! My pride gets in the way. I wasn’t talking about all these places I can’t get to for people to feel sorry for me, to go out of their way to help me, for me to be an inconvenience. I dig my heels in, ‘no thank you, it’s only a wish list’, ‘not at all, I’ll figure it out’ (knowing full well already what my limited options are)’ and probably my best-or worst- response- ‘I don’t want you to feel you have to drive’.

And then their response ‘It will be fun road trip for both of us’, ‘I haven’t been before either’, and ‘I’m happy to drive but we can stay local if you prefer’ make me re-assess. Why? because there’s a sense of ‘doing together’ rather than ‘doing for me’. I’m given the choice of their company locally, so I feel less of a burden. And I feel I might have given them an idea to try something new. So, I said yes to a road trip. And it turned out to be better than what I imagined. Not only did I achieve my intended outcome, to see Plymouth Rock, but I saw so much more than from a train window, and had the added bonus of experiencing new and fun things that weren’t even on my list! And experiencing it all with someone, building relationships, rather than just doing it by myself.

Well, what has this to do with inclusion I hear you ask. It got me thinking about how our students must feel when they have to constantly ‘receive help’ from us. Or why, when we know a student is struggling, we can’t understand why they just won’t ask for or take the help. I honestly never considered pride or feeling an inconvenience were reasons my students might be disengaging. And wasn’t I offering them a way to achieve their destination goal by, for want of a better word, driving them. I asked ‘how can I help you?’ or suggested ‘why don’t you try it this way’ but it wasn’t until I started giving them, and all their peers, choices that I noticed them being less stubborn and trying different ways. Yet, I never thought, until this weekend, to be explicit about us doing it together, I thought that was obvious. I did say ‘let’s try this’ and ‘would you like to try’ but there was never a ‘we’, never an explicit we’re taking this journey together and we’ll both learn something new along the way. Giving students choices will always benefit them. The language and actions we use to ensure they don’t feel an inconvenience, that we the teacher feel we have to be with them, will encourage them to use those choices, and more importantly ask for help. And then the road trip becomes just glorious!

Plymouth Rock

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