Poker chips - Raising students' self esteem

Jon Tait

Jon is a senior leader and deputy headteacher working in a large north-east secondary school. He has experience working in three different schools over 15 years. He’s very interested in creative and innovative teaching practices which engage students and ultimately raise achievement.

Jon regularly presents at TeachMeets and teaching conferences both in the UK and internationally via Skype. This has included presentations to conferences in Manhattan, Ohio and Dubai. He was selected to carry the Olympic Torch at the London 2012 Olympics. Jon has spoken to schools throughout the USA, as well as Australia, New Zealand, India, Pakistan and France.

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During my visit to the Association for Physical Education's national conference, I was inspired by Keynote speakers Iwan Thomas and Richard McCann talking about how 'attitude is everything', and that it's all about saying 'I can'. Both of these speakers were absolutely right, but it got me thinking about one essential ingredient that all of our kids need before they can be confident enough to say 'I can': poker chips.

It took me back to the first ever teacher training video that I ever watched as a GTP student, learning my trade in a school in special measures just over 10 years ago. I vividly remember sitting down to watch this video with the rest of the teaching staff and being sceptical about what I was about to see. However, after just a few minutes I was hooked and have always remembered the powerful message that was conveyed by Rick Lavoie. His message was simple: our kids need to be given self esteem by us as teachers and parents if we want them to join in the game of life. We need to give them poker chips every day so they feel confident enough to play alongside the popular kids at school, enough poker chips so they can answer questions in class, and enough poker chips so they can take on the challenges that life throws at us.

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