By Teachers, For Teachers
If someone asked you what you liked best about your favorite teacher growing up, you would probably describe a trait such as caring, kind, thoughtful, or humorous. You most likely would describe how the teacher made you feel. You would describe a person that made you feel safe in school, allowed you to take chances, or someone who always had your back.
According to research, a caring teacher can transform the school experience for a student. Science has found that caring student-teacher relationships help students do better in school, as well as act more kindly toward others. If you were to imagine two teachers teaching the same lesson, while one was acting with kindness and the other was acting unfriendly, you would probably find that the students liked, as well as learned better from the kind and caring teacher. A productive student-teacher relationship is essential, students need to feel cared about. Fortunately, there are lot of ways for teachers to build caring relationship with their students. Here are a few teaching strategies that do just that.
Just as you plan your getting-to-know you activities so that your students can feel more comfortable among their peers, you can get to know your students a little better as well. Play getting-to-know you games where you can learn a lot about your students. Or, give students an interest survey where you can really allow them to dig deep into their personal lives and see their personalities. If your students have different cultural backgrounds, this is especially important to do. Research shows that a cultural misunderstanding between students and teachers can lead to a negative impact in school. You can show you care by taking the time to get to know these students and learn about their culture.
Have you ever heard of the saying “I know you can hear me, but are you really listening?” Take the time to really listen to what your students have to say, don’t just hear what they are saying really listen to what they are saying. Encourage them to share their ideas and opinions with you. Actively listen to your students and look for the meaning behind what they are saying. If they are coming to you with a personal problem or confiding in you about how they feel about an upcoming test, then make sure that take the time and check in with them to see how they are doing, or how the test went. This will help you develop a trusting relationship with your students.
Another great way to show your students that you care is to show them that you value their opinion. Get their feedback on how you are doing as a teacher, what they want to learn, or how they want to learn. Just by taking the time to ask them their feedback you are showing them that you value what they have to say. This will create a learning environment where students feel safe to ask questions and give their opinions.
There is no doubt that this may be a lot to ask of very busy teachers, but it shows students that you care enough about them to support them in whatever they are doing. This simple act can make a world of difference in a student’s life, especially the students who are disengaged or having trouble in school. If you find that your life is just too busy to attend these after-school events, then just make an effort to show up for a minutes at an event that you know all of your students will be at. This takes little effort on your part, but will make a huge impact on your students.
Title it “A New Year Awaits” and tell them a little bit about yourself. Add pictures of yourself and your family. Open up and let them really get to know you, it will help students feel a connection to you. If you are a middle or high school teachers and are thinking that’s a lot of stamps, don’t worry you can just give it your students on the first day of school. A welcome letter allows students to get excited about what’s to come while getting to you at the same time. It’s a wonderfully fun way to show that you care enough about them, to let them into your life (on a personal level).
The smallest caring gesture can have a huge impact on a student. Something as little as taking the time to ask a student how they are doing, can really make someone who is having a bad day feel better. Show students you care and adopt a few of these ideas in your classroom, you will be thankful that you did.
What are you doing to show your students that you care? Please tell us in the comment section below we would love to hear your ideas!
Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds a Master's of Science in Education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is also the Elementary Education Expert for About.com, as well as a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com and TeachHUB Magazine. You can follow her at Twitter @Empoweringk6ed, or on Facebook at Empowering K6 Educators.