May 22, 2012 by k. liz
Perhaps this is natural for all other teachers, but I know that sometimes I have to consciously work myself into it. There are definitely days in which I view the people I share my classroom with as students, and only students. I let myself forget that they have lives and dreams and desires and stories, and I think only of the task at hand and how they are or are not facilitating that task.
Sometimes, I really just need to stop and see them as people. I’ve been thinking of a couple of ways to do this, because it really does change the game of the day. It changes it from “grrrrrr. these kids make it so difficult to do my job!” to “wow. these kids are my job, and my job is part of the entire story of their lives.” I much prefer the latter, but for me it isn’t always natural.
So, how do you go about valuing these little people (or big people, as your case may be) as actual people?
- Dream for them. Daydream during the day about where they will be in 10 years, or 20 years (don’t figure out how old that will make you, though, because then that starts a new spiral of depression!!) Notice their strengths and imagine what they might be doing with them when they graduate from college or start a family.
- Laugh with them. Tell them a story, or watch them when they do something and they think no one else saw, then assure them that you actually did see it and it was funny.
- Tell them about yourself. My kids love hearing stories about when I was their age. And, I think that it is fun for them to know that you are a normal person outside of school. One of my kids was confused about where I sleep at night. He wondered if I went to America every night and was kind of amazed to find out that I live in Turkey only a couple of minutes from school! Another student loves when I tell him about how I used to play Mario when I was little. If we want them to be able to develop real-life relationships, we might as well start with ourselves!
- Say sorry. Perhaps I’m wrong in this, but I feel that there are probably teachers out there who do not often apologize to their students, even when they were wrong. I get the idea that at times there are teachers who seem to own the classroom and can do no wrong. That does very little for learning to love your students and see them as little people. Say sorry when you knock your student’s bag over, or when you accidentally mess up their game.
- Listen to them. I know that I find it easy to brush off my students questions or stories if I don’t want to listen. But, can you imagine the difference it could make in a child’s life if they ask you to play a game with them, and you say yes? Or they ask you to tell them a story at recess and you agree? If there is nothing wrong with what they want to do, then don’t make them feel like there is. Let your students talk to you and interact with them to make them feel important. They are. They are actually the most important part of your job.