As an educator of more than 10 years, I have experienced some of the most challenging students as I have the best behaved students. Regardless of my interactions with them, the most important thing we as teachers can do is to show students we care. Like really care. Genuinely. How do you mend a broken relationship or how do you ensure a good foundation is built initially?
There are several strategies I have used throughout my professional career that I have deemed successful. Not only have I experienced its success but so have colleagues, parents, administration, and students.
Students really latch themselves to me. I find students who have been labeled as the "bad kids"running to me as if I'm their safety net, and in some cases, I am their safe place; they know I genuinely love and care for them, but when necessary, I'll "tell them like it is." They need that balance. Students know my intentions are good and my chastisement comes from the heart.
To build relationships with students
- Talk to them about their outside lives. (Family, sports, the latest movie, the current trends). Show interest.
- Show your personality. Let them see that your role is not only teacher. Laugh a little at a joke a student might make. Loosen up!
- Share a little of your life when teaching. As a teacher of literacy, I am quick to add a part of my personal life when discussing terms. For example, when discussing conflicts, themes, figurative language, or even citing sources, I embed personal stories as examples to get my point across and to maintain interest.
- Visit students outside of school. Do students participate in ballet, recreational sports and games, or other extracurricular activities? Show up. This is also a good way to build relationships with parents. They really open up and will appreciate you being there. The student will remember it forever.
- Attend school related games and cheer them on. Shout them out in class whether they were part of the winning team or losing team.
- Incorporate them into lessons. On assessments,students loved seeing their names in a writing prompt or in a question. It will bring humor. The quietest student, who you can sometimes forget is there will take great appreciation; the small things matter.
- Don't sweat the small stuff. Being a petty teacher will cause opposition. Choose your battles. Something as small as allowing a student to finish their drink, get the flavor out their gum, or eat the last chip before you make them throw it away goes a long way. However, make your expectations known in that moment. They are not to do it again.
- Greet students as they enter the classroom. I never understood how people could see students and not even speak! Give them a handshake or a "pound" as they enter. Greet them by name. Smile!
- Incorporate incentives. Many times we focus on the negative students and negate the positive. Focus on the good and let that overshadow the bad. Whether it's recognition, a phone call home, computer time, a healthy snack, a piece of candy. Reward students.
- Be happy with your life inside and outside of school. Miserable teacher execute their miserableness to all those around. Enjoy your weekends and your time away from the school grounds so you stay a happy camper!
I hope these few words find you well!