Cross posted on Brilliant or Insane
Our most challenging students need at least one adult in which they can confide in; who makes them feel special. Every student needs someone to support them, someone who they can turn to when times are tough. We must be willing to listen when nobody else will. When no one else will understand, we need to. As educators, we often fill the void of broken families, of being a social outcast, and of loneliness. Frequently we are most important person in a child’s life.
Building relationships through shared emotions that foster long-lasting connections can be created in several ways.
- Let students see you as a real person. Doing so opens the door for them to share their lives with you. The door should not be wide open, but by intertwining personal anecdotes into lessons, sharing our own experiences and professional hopes and expectations, students will see you as more than an information dispenser.
- Let your students know that you care about them and that you’re there for them. Strive to make every student feel as if they are your favorite. Find the positive in each an every student.
- Take an interest in their lives. I aimed to meet each student as they entered my classroom with a personal question. One particularly helpful strategy I learned: spend 2 minutes a day for 2 consecutive weeks talking to your most challenging students about something other than school. Doing so while students worked individually minimized lost instructional time and paid off in the long-run.
- Don’t treat all students the same. While it’s important to treat everyone with respect, it’s equally important to know what will work with one student will not work with another.
- Believe in all students. Countless studies indicate that the expectations teachers have for students come to fruition. Constantly communicate high behavioral and academic expectations for all students.
- Build a positive class culture. Search for opportunities for students to be proud and show off your class achievements. Brag to other teachers, parents, anyone who will listen about your students. Trust me when I say, “it will get back to your students.”
- Listen. Nothing says you care more than listening intently and sincerely to your students. Even if you don’t agree with their point or actions, let them know that you recognize and value them.
- Never criticize the student. Focus on the misbehavior and not the student, value the student above all else.
Students will only open themselves up to us when they feel valued and respected. Each student must have has an educator ready to champion for them. We shall all strive to be remembered by our students as the teacher who made a difference.