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The Secret to Teaching

 Teaching is hard.  We all know that.  But what makes some teachers succeed while others fail?




The answer is probably much simpler than you may think.  It's relationships.  Teachers who take the time and effort to create meaningful relationships with their students are the teachers who are successful.  Relationships take a lot of time and hard work especially for our more difficult students, but relationships make all the difference in the world.  A student is more likely to trust an adult who takes the time to get to know them and who finds positive qualities in them.  Students are more likely to keep trying when they are frustrated, accept consequences, and calm down when upset or angry when they have a relationship with a trusting adult.  For many of our students, they have few, if any, relationships with adults and have no idea how to interact with others.

How do you create a meaningful relationship with your students?

1.  Get to know them.  I know we are busy and we have to cover the curriculum, so when do we get to know our students?  It really only takes a minute or two each day.  Every week choose 1 or 2 students to spend 2 minutes with them.  You need to ask them questions about themselves and share information about yourself.  You can also sit with them at lunch.  Kids love to have extra attention at lunch.  This is also a very low threat for students because it is a social situation instead of an academic setting.

2. Be silly.  Students like to tell jokes and trick the teacher.  Be willing to walk right into a student's joke.  This shows the students that you are human and you are not perfect.  Students love to laugh.  Find a way to laugh with them.  It's ok to laugh at yourself.  Your students will love to see you as a real person.

3.  Be willing to apologize.  When you mess up, apologize.  If you make a mistake, apologize.  I know it sounds simple, but students rarely get the opportunity to see you as a person.  If you are willing to apologize to a student when you mess up, they are more likely to apologize when they mess up.

4.  Talk to them.  Make an effort to talk to each of your students every single day.  It only takes a few seconds to say good morning and ask them how their night was.  Compliment them and notice when they come to school with a new haircut or new clothes.

5.  Say what you mean and mean what you say.  If you tell a student you are going to do something, do it.  If life happens and you can't follow through, tell the student and apologize.  When you treat a student with kindness and respect, they are more likely to return kindness and respect to you.  If you dish out a consequence when you are angry and you later realize it's unfair/unnecessary, talk to the student and apologize for reacting out of anger.  Tell them you overreacted and that xyz is a more fair consequence.

The bottom line, talk to your students and get to know them for who they are.  Celebrate what makes them amazing.  You kids will thank you for it.  

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