It's the Little Things: Building Relationships with Your Students
I was recently looking through some of the letters my students have written me over the years, and this by far, is one of my favorite letters because it makes me laugh!
"Thank you for being pashint [patient] with the choir when we was goofing off and being disreaspect ful. The entire year I was just waiting for you to snap. Every time someone would be goofing off I would see the look on your face and I would think, now is the time shes going to snap, but you didn't, you cep your cool the intire time. And I thank you for it.
I also wanted to thank you for the caring teacher that you are. You have something that not every teacher has, a heart. Every time some one was sad or down you ask what was wrong and you helped as much as you could. That one day I was down you told me that if I wanted to talk to you about it I could. Thank you Mrs. Stokes..."
“Kids don’t learn from people they don’t like,” Rita Pearson bluntly stated.
Take a moment and think about a few of your teachers. Can you remember the nature of the interactions that you had with them? How many years ago was that?
It’s difficult to balance the business-like teacher with the caring, motherly or fatherly type of teacher. However, it can be done.
Here is a revelation that I had.
When addressing the entire class, always use your business-like tone.
When addressing students one-on-one, use your motherly or fatherly tone. This is when you can get down on their level and say, “Ok, sweetheart, I can tell you are not yourself today. What’s the matter?”
Relationships are an extremely important part of classroom management. If your students can trust you, they will fight for you. They will take up for you in front of other students.
Here are some really simple ways to begin to build trusting relationships with your students. Most of these are common sense, but it took me a couple of years to get into the habit of using them.
Notice that none of these ideas involves gluing, glitter, or gifts. The things students remember most are the words that you say. Use them wisely. Words really are potent. In hindsight, I'm so glad I didn't "snap."
Susan Dewees, Ed.D. is an administrator at a large middle school. She also served as a Turnaround Team Coordinator for a public school district in Louisiana. She has 20 years of experience in public school education, and special education is one of her specialties.
Erin Stokes, Ed.D. is a Title I Instructional Coordinator for a public school district in Louisiana. She has over 10 years of experience as a teacher and instructional coach. She is also an adjuct professor at Louisiana College. She loves students, teachers, and most of all--learning.
Becky Pippen, Ed.D. is currently serving as principal of a large middle school in Louisiana. She has over 20 years experience in educational leadership. She is passionate about improving the teacher workforce so that all students have the quality of instruction they deserve.