Teacher Bart defends the silent child: ‘Every student deserves attention’

Busy students in class often get the attention, as Bart Healing knows from experience. It represents the so + block 4 class. Its students are between 6 and 12 years old, they no longer follow the 4 educational block and are often at home. They have serious behavioral and psychological problems. “About 80 percent of these children exhibit extroverted behaviour,” he explains. “Kick, shout, curse. You cannot avoid responding to that as a teacher.”

20% of the other children turn inward. They are calm, introverted and unobtrusive. As Bart wrote on LinkedIn: “Dear students you can say, ‘I want an entire class full of that. It is not related to. Always hard at work. You don’t hear it at all. Don’t demand attention.”

But that doesn’t mean these kids aren’t worthy of attention, according to Bart. “Just like busy kids, calm kids also feel stress and tension. That builds up in their bodies. They just don’t express it, so they don’t lose it. And that can continue into old age.”

stress in the body

Bart came across a video about this, by Canadian-Hungarian doctor Gabor Mate. In it he talks about children who are not seen at a young age, who are not recognized for who they really are. Then they can start to doubt it. I do it right? They often take this feeling with them into their adult lives. And they make up for it in the form of pleasing behavior, an inability to say no, and a lack of expression of emotion or hard work. All of these stresses can eventually lead to physical complaints and illnesses.

“I’ve already noticed the pressure in the body that Matty was referring to in a lot of young, calm kids,” Bart explains. “It prompted me to dedicate a post on my LinkedIn page to it.” On that LinkedIn page, the teacher regularly posts anonymous posts about his students. With this he wants to show that they are much more than their behavior. “They’re also just kids with a sense of humor, sadness, and fears.”


After his message about the silent students, Bart indulged in positive vibes. Other teachers are aware of the calm attitude of their students, but it also takes many people back to their childhood. They say, for example, “I was, I was also a quiet kid and I still had insecurities and feelings that I wasn’t good enough.”

Bart did not receive any bad reactions to the post. One woman indicated that she thinks that all this attention to busy students is not necessarily a good thing, as it is often negative attention. It therefore advocates that teachers treat all students better. “Good point,” says Bart. “I totally agree with that, of course.”

Also in formal education

In his post he explicitly focuses on all teachers. “In special education, the difference between busy and calm students is very clear. The behavior is more extreme on both sides. But in normal education you also have very busy and calm students.”

Bart himself worked in public education for thirteen years before ending up at this school. Already in one of his first days, he noticed how different students reacted to a lecture. One enjoys it, and the other finds it so exciting that it develops into physical complaints. “Stomach pain, inability to sleep or bad bowel movements.”

Since then, he has made sure to divide his attention among all the students in the class, including those who are not so demanding. “They need that attention.” Bart is convinced that students who receive more attention in regular education are less likely to transfer to special education.


But how do you do it, pay attention to all your students when you are so busy as a teacher? “Let me state first, that teachers really don’t forget about silent students,” Bart confirms. “And you don’t have to make it big either. Often only a few students are silent. Let them know you see them. On entering, when they leave, but also during the day. Squat on their table, give them a thumbs up, and ask how the weekend was. Acknowledge their presence.” Enough. The rest of the class doesn’t have to notice.”

An equal, safe and open atmosphere in the classroom is essential for students. Just like fun and confidence. “The moment quiet kids feel safe in class, they can also express their feelings more easily and develop healthily. You didn’t create such an atmosphere overnight, but you pay attention to it. Perhaps instead of discussing the circle, you could have the kids talk about a weekend. week in small groups.

Don’t put him in the spotlight

What you should not do is highlight the silent students. “Example: Give a presentation in front of the class today. This is somewhat counterproductive.” In any case, you do not have to expect the same from every child, Bart believes.

But isn’t it your job as a teacher to prepare students for their later careers? Shouldn’t you occasionally let them do something they find exciting, just to be flexible? Bart thinks this is nonsense.

“There are a lot of jobs that you don’t have to apply. Moreover, presentation is not the flexibility I’m looking for. Making a conscious decision about doing something or not — that’s flexibility too. Dare to say no when the teacher asks you to apply. I want To give students basic confidence in themselves.”

Was he actually a silent student himself? “Not that,” Bart laughs. “But I have shown compensatory behaviour, by always playing the clown. I pretended to be different than I was. I hope, as a teacher, that I can now contribute to ensuring that students do not have to do so. Because they are looked upon.”

Written by: National Education Guide / Bent Schrewers

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