The following thoughts are from an anonymous guest blogger…A prize will go out to the first person who can guess their identity!
I believe that relationships are a very important part to a productive learning environment. Without building positive relationships with students, everything you try to accomplish in your room will be a lot harder.
Just assuming that your students should respect you and do what you say just because you are their teacher — What does that actually mean to them? I know in the perfect world, or even across town, a teacher will only have to focus on teaching their student school subjects. One has to remember that our job is to shape the mind of young ones in order for them to become contributing members of society. At our school social skills and behavior are just as important as math and reading (I know the federal government feels differently and wants to see better scores). I understand that you are in a role of authority with students. Just remember some authority figures in their lives might not be positive, so some students learn early in life to not trust them. If a student has any inkling or a reason to believe that you don’t care about them, “GOOD LUCK” because it will be a long year.
A relationship starts when you, the teacher, begin to take a genuine interest in your students’ lives. A good starting point would be things they care about, (culture, food, family, sports, fashion, TV,) and things of that nature. Once you do that you can move on to trust. Trust is “a Firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something (Google dictionary).” I believe that this is the most important piece of the relationship puzzle. Once a student trusts you, they are more likely to do what you need them to do. Plus, if something is bothering them in their lives, they will tell you. If you can help in anyway it will only make that trust stronger. This is because they now know that you are there for them. To our kids this is one of the greatest feelings in the world. This relationship can be a great tool for motivation because the student will not want to let you down.
On to discipline, now that you have a trusting relationship. Your students will be less likely to argue your discipline decisions and use the words “why do I have to go to the safe seat?” or “this isn’t fair!” because they trust you to keep them safe and to do what is right.
I believe that once all these pieces are in place. This will allow you to have the structure where the most efficient learning can happen. These are just my thoughts.
The guest blogger and I agreed that this quote goes along nicely with the thoughts expressed today:
Caring teachers with high expectations helped me read my way out. They helped me push against the currents of the environment in which I lived. They did not limit their aspirations for me because my pants were too short. They did not lower their expectations for me because my lunch application told them I lived below the poverty line.
Instead, they required me to read the basal textbook, as well as the local newspaper, historical documents, poetry and literature. These teachers had Harvard dreams for students living in hellish conditions. I felt a kinship with them that helped me attend to their instruction.
Literacy was thrust upon me in rich and meaningful ways, not because I was a wonderful student, but because the teachers believed I deserved nothing less.” — Dr. Alfred W. Tatum