Teachers, oh teachers, how lovely are your lessons. *Yes, I’m aware that it is almost April, but it’s never too late, or too early, to akin things to Christmas trees.* Teachers have so much power and potential to be one of the greatest human beings in a students entire life. That’s a lot of pressure for some, but for me, it is motivating. I want to be great. I live to be loved by the masses, in a not weird and inappropriate way. Teachers have been some of the most influential people in my life, and I want to spread that positivity into my future students. I want students to know that I am their ally. So, how am I going to do this? I’ll tell you a few tricks and tools I think I can and will use.
- Tell them. The easiest way to ensure that people know your agenda, is to tell them your agenda.
- Talk to students one on one. Having individual meetings at some point in the year, just to check in and see how they’re doing can be incredibly helpful. During this meeting ask them how school is going, let them know that if they need help with anything that you will do your best to help or find a resource for them that can help.
- Ask them about their life. This can be done in another one on one meeting or in an activity like a journal entry. Give them a limit to how much they can write, like the 6 word challenge. Larry Smith talks about his adventures with this in his TEDx talk Six Words Are The Way In.
Those are all the tools I’m going to share with you because I want to talk more about Larry Smith’s TEDx talk for a moment.
I think the most valuable part of this talk was when he brings up prisoners, and veterans. Yes, they aren’t quite the students I’ll be teaching at first, but I like to think that we are all veterans of something, and many students see school as a prison, so there’s that.
Larry mentions that the briefness of a six word memoir gives you the essence of a story. And that after they give you the six words, you respond with three, “Tell me more.” And you let them tell you what they want you to know. I think that is a great tool for a teacher to get to know their students. You never truly understand another person, but if you know their perspective on life, you can come a little closer to understanding why they might feel a certain way about certain things, and you will have a better idea of topics maybe you should avoid or emphasize, or even demonstrate that there can be other ways of a particular action, like domestic abuse.
I bring up domestic abuse because many students will deal with abusive relationships at home, and it is important for you to show them that they can have relationships that are not abusive, but it is also incredibly important to teach them about the different ways of being abused and abusing others. Abuse is not always physical. It can be very mental. I’ve dealt with a lot of mental abuse at home in the past and it’s not fun. But no one ever really told me about the dangers of mental abuse until I got to college. I always thought that you had to have bruises and cuts to be abused, but that’s not the case at all. It can be a very sensitive topic, but you should come to an agreement or middle ground with your students about this.
By letting your students know that you care about them, will not abuse them in any manner, and helping them to be educated on the signs and ways of domestic abuse can be helpful in furthering your relationship, and can help them feel safer with you. Students should never feel unsafe in a school environment, and I think that teaching them about the abuse will help with that.
So, consider their perspective, acknowledge their situations, and ask them about it. These are the tree biggest takeaways I got from Larry’s talk, and I think they are also three of the biggest tools a teacher can use to get to know their students and help them.
Signing off, Jaile.