Building Relationships with students is a critical part of teaching. For many students, if they don’t trust you or believe you truly care about them, they aren’t going to buy what you’re selling. For this blog post, I am doing something a bit different. I spoke with a former colleague turned close friend, and teacher for 30+ years to get insight into her amazing ability to connect with her students.
I was lucky enough to meet Dorothy my second year of teaching after moving to Georgia. Right away she made me feel comfortable and important, and she was quick to help me settle into my new classroom. It was obvious she had a gift for making people feel welcome. I just didn’t realize how good she was until I saw her in action with her students. I remember students, new and old, flocking to her door just so they could say “Good Morning” and give her a hug. They would light up when they saw her coming down the hall or in the cafeteria. I always admired the way she made each student feel as if they were the only one that mattered to her.
This past school year she retired from a successful career as a teacher, and I thought it would be the perfect time to share her strategies, tips, and techniques she used to create those amazing connections.
Here are a few tips and thoughts she shared with me…
“A child will be a successful student if you teach the whole child and make a point to be there for them.”
“The main thing I do is just try to get to KNOW my students and definitely the parents too. I let them know from day one that their child is mine and I would treat them that way always. It is important that I thank them for letting me share in their child’s life for the next year. Also, that it is truly an honor to be entrusted with their child.”
“One thing I do is have lunch with each student (one per day) at the beginning of the year. This time is used to just talk and get to know them one-on-one. I also continue this throughout the school year whenever I think they need some person time with me. ”
“I loved giving my students a dollar for being student of the week or for their birthday, just so they would feel a little bit more special. Each Christmas, I would send cards to the families and would make homemade stocking for the kids. It occurred to me, after being in a Title 1 school, that those kids did not have those type of memories. Their families were just doing what they could to survive.”
“When kids KNOW you are in their corner, they will work their hearts off for you, and they aren’t afraid to ask for help.”
“I would tell any new teacher to REALLY take the time to know their students. When you REALLY know them, it pays off in the long run. Most teachers feel they don’t have the time and there is just TOO much to do. I may not have been a super star teacher, but I sure did KNOW my kids. When a child feels and knows you believe and care about them, they will do everything in their power to show you they deserve your love and attention.”
“One last thing I would advise is to remember that even the littlest things are remembered.”