Teachers Connecting with Students: 5 Best Ways
Build Relationships with your Students
Teachers, ever feel like a drone in front of your classroom of students who never seem to listen? You set the tone of the classroom, not them. Put an end to dreading your job by building relationships with your students. Be the initiator!
1. Greet Them at the Door
The first words you say to your students should not be, "Today you're going to learn about..."
You should have already had positive interactions with each and every student. Thought this sounds difficult, if not impossible, the door is where this magic happens. When students walk through that door, make sure they know that they are walking into a safe place created for learning, sharing, interacting, and growing.
You can do this by striking up conversations with students that will build each day. Ask kids if they have fun weekend plans, and follow up on Monday. Or, ask athletes how the game went last night. Ask what their favorite ice cream is, or their favorite animal. Even with tough kids, you're bound to strike the right cord eventually!
Another action with high impact that can be done at the door is to shake their hands. Shaking their hands shows that you respect them. If you're more of a "high-5" or "pound-it" kind of person, this is ok too, but the point is that you want to establish a mutual respect.
2. Teach with Relevance
Say your subject is math, and you are teaching students how to add (for the sake of my example, I'm keeping it simple). Is it easier to illustrate addition to a student if you write on paper
3 + 3 = 6
or is it easier to illustrate through objects and ideas that interest your students, as shown in the photo to the right?
Let's take this a step further. You are now a Geometry teacher at the high school level and you are focusing on triangles and proportions. Instead of drawing triangles on a paper and assigning unwanted homework, take a field trip outside and measure height and the length of your shadow, which crreates a triangle to discover the height of the flagpole.
The purpose of exercising relevance in the classroom is twofold: not only will your students enoy class time more because they are involved with the lesson, they will also be able to apply these concepts in everyday life. Like adults, students have interests outside of school and it is your job to tap into that power source.
3. Provide Incentives
Incentives can be a fun way to get even the most stubborn students involved.
The type of incentive can range from bringing in small candies to rearranging the classroom to even having a feast day. My husband, a special education teacher in Wichita, KS, uses incentives frequently. Last week he threw a pancake breakfast in their honor because everyone got an "A" on the test he gave. These are special education students learning challenging concepts and receving the best possible grades on assignments because the teacher is taking the time to invest in their lives.
4. Step Away from the Schoolwork- Spontaneously!
When a teacher allows a "brainbreak" or a short period of time for students to recharge and refocus, he or she is actually maximizing class productivity. Not only do students benefit socially from this break from concentration, but studies also show that the brain uses this time to recharge and prepare for more focused learning.
About twenty minues into class, grab a foosball and throw it to a student. He or she should tell the class something unique about him or herself and then toss the ball to another fellow student. After about ten students share, put the ball away and continue class. Make sure different students receive the ball every day. Or, come up with daily themes. For example: favorite pet growing up, favorite sport to watch on tv, favorite movie, song, etc.
Getting to know your students will not only maximize classroom productivity, but it will also help you teach them better in the long run.
5. Treat Students Like Human Beings
All too often my husband will come home from school disgruntled by the incredible number of fellow teachers who badmouth or make fun of students behind their backs. It's infuriating. What kind of example does that set for the next generation if the role models are phony?
Students know when teachers don't like them, and they will make every effort to avoid contact with that teacher or do work for his or her classroom. On the flipside, if students know that you are the teacher they can trust, you can literally change their lives. They will respond to you and participate in your class because you may be the only adult in the world who has reached out to them. Even the "tough guy" or the "catty girl" in call need to be reached out to by a positive role model. Even if they seem too calloused to care, they do. In fact students who need the most love may be the ones who deserve it least. make that effort and they will reciprocate in time.
It's a sad truth, but teachers are getting paid to teach effectively. And if they can't build relationships with their students, they are simply not able to carry out the duties of their jobs.