One of the best ways to get students engaged (and loving school) is through the development if trust and positive relationships. For some, this come naturally, yet for others, it can be a struggle.
There are many things you can do to connect with your students in a meaningful, positive, appropriate way:
- Be aware. Every day, i greet each of my students at the door to my classroom. It is amazing how easy it can be to spot a student whose day is off to a rough start through a 2-second, “Good Morning.”
- Be proactive. Anytime things don’t seem ‘quite right’ with one of your students, do something about it. So etimes this is just by keeping an eye out for unusual behavior, and other times, it can be taking a moment to check in and see if there is anything the student needs to talk about.
- Be present. And I don’t mean just show up to work. We all have junk in our lives. That junk is not our students’ fault. Check your baggage at your classroom door and be with the kids more than just by being in the room. Even when times are tough from a loss, fight, car accident, worrying about bills, or any of the 500 other things we all have happening in life. I can guarantee you will walk away from a school day in much better shape if you let all that go and focus on your students while you are at school.
- Learn more about your students. By discovering more about your kids and their backgrounds, you will begin to understand where they are coming from that much more. Knowing that Tommy’s brothers and sisters are in foster care, or that Ava’s mom is working two jobs helps us have a little more patience when they don’t turn in their math homework, or have a hard time focusing on a lesson about ancient Egyptians. You can learn about them through conversations, or through parent surveys like this one.
- Be sincere. Most kids can see through flattery and insincerity. Some students are easy to encourage while others can me downright difficult to like. For your more difficult students, notice things that are true. For example, “wow, you are really fluent at your math facts!” Or “you clearly loce minecraft! Look at all those drawings you have done (while I was teaching math)” …might want to keep that last part to yourself. Sometimes, even taking the time to notice something about a student can really mean a lot.
- Believe in your students. Your students WILL go on to do great things. Believe this. You are making a difference in their lives and want to see them be successful. If you believe in them, they will see that and begin to believe in themselves too!
Ultimately, the bottom line is that students will benefit by knowing that you care, you notice, and you believe that they will go on to do great things in life!