Connecting With Your Students
In the wake of Standard-based learning and accountability,
I am finding that many teachers have moved away from what really
makes learning meaningful. Many students are falling through the
cracks because of their disinterest in school. Others, still, are
crippled with fear or worry about situations outside the school.
Some are hungry, and still others sick. How do we teach content
to these children?
There is plenty of literature that supports the notion that
teaching is a process rather than a technique. It requires more
than just methods and curriculum. In order to create positive
learning experiences that foster student growth, teachers need
to find ways to connect with their students. It can be as simple
as learning what they like to eat or what kinds of pets they have
at home. Take the opportunity to let each student know you are
interested in something they do or like. Make learning personal
You have a student who loves to play baseball. In fact, during
a math lesson you see him shuffling baseball cards in his desk.
Use that interest in baseball to engage that student. Ask him
how many innings are in a baseball game. Ask a fraction-related
question, such as "How many innings did you play if the coach
left you in for 2/3 of the game?" BINGO!-The student is back in
the ball game.
You might ask that same student if he could bring his baseball
cards out during recess to share with you. That may be the connection
that allows this student to be available for learning, and enables
a trusting relationship to sprout.
If you have difficulty making a connection with a student, try
- Call a parent or brother/sister to ask what the student is
- Start the year with an "Interest Inventory."
- Ask former teachers about the student.
- Pay attention, listen, listen, listen!
Communicating care, acceptance and respect for a student will
take you a lot further than any fancy teaching method. It is important
to plan purposeful activities that provide the opportunity for
you to make meaningful connections with your students. The students
will be more available for learning and your job will be much
more interesting and rewarding.