By Teachers, For Teachers
As teachers, we all try to establish that all important teacher/student relationship to engage students in learning and growing. Creating extra time for interaction beyond the instructional portion of the day is a great way to strengthen this relationship.
Teachers often think in terms of beginning contract time and ending contract time in terms of their day, causing them to shy away from attending outside-the-school day activities.
Rather, teachers should think in terms of the businessmen and women who meet with clients socially to deepen their relationships and understanding of each other so they can meet the needs of each other within their business relationships. If teachers would also think of their students as clients who are counting on them to help meet the needs that they have, then spending time with them outside of the business day will help all the more to meet those needs.
It is important to remember that spending time with students is not a negative. Students are the reason why you became a teacher not something you have to tolerate so that you can get paid. Children are the reason we are at school, they are the element that drives most every decision made within our work day. They are why we are teachers.
Spending time with your students can mean so much to them. Take advantage of your opportunities to engage students whenever you can, like when on the playground, chatting in the halls or while doing activities together.
Supporting your students outside of school is a great way to bond with students. Gather information about the activities your students participate in outside of school and set aside time to go to some of these activities to support your students.
This might be a dance or music performance or another form of artistic expression. Some of the other forms of artistic activities that your students might be involved with would be theatre performances at school or perhaps at a community venue. Musical performances are another opportunity to watch and learn about your students. These performances might be a single performer recital or a band or ensemble performance. There are also any number of sporting activities to attend, regardless of the grade level you teach, where you could watch your student participate.
Another way to deepen the relationship you have with your students is through the use of classroom meetings. From a student's perspective, school is a place where you are told where to stand, how to stand, when to talk, when you can eat, what you can eat or drink, when, where and how to sit, when you can go to the bathroom and how long you can be in there and when you are allowed to leave. Compared to other public institutions, this sounds an awfully lot like prison.
When students are permitted to have a say on how their environment is fashioned and how the day and their reality is structured, they will feel more involved and empowered. Classroom meetings provide the opportunity for your students to have input in to how certain things are done in and around the school environment and school activities.
Some of the topics for a classroom meeting might be:
Classroom meetings serve many functions, not the least of which is that they empower students by allowing them to participate in a democratic process that in a real way can impact what their reality at school will be like. When students are permitted to have a say on how their environment is fashioned and how the day and their reality is structured, they will feel more involved and empowered. Remember that people will be more willing to support that which they create.
One of the ways I spend time with students is with fencing. I began fencing in college and brought this hobby with me to school. My students can fence during recess one day a week and it gives many children a chance to do something they have wanted to do for a long time. Many children, both male and female, dream of being a swashbuckling pirate.
When asked I will give some time after school to share a fencing lesson with a student who wants to learn more about the sport. I find that typically these students tend to be boys. Boys and girls tend to converse in different manners. Girls will get together for the sake of talking. Boys want to get together to hangout and do something.
Boys like to communicate while they are doing something else, like fishing, or going to the game, working on a bike or fencing. When planning how you will provide time for you to get to know your students, remember that the quality of communication with your male students will improve if there is an activity that you are doing while you are talking.
How do you create extra time for your students? Share in the comments section!