“I printed off of all of my class rosters and placed a check next to each kid that I “talked to” today. Go ahead try it. If you do nothing else today, print off a class list and place a check next to each kid that you talked to today. Not just a question and answer back and forth, but a few sentences either in or outside of class. I wonder what that data would show over time. I bet that the kids who aren’t doing so well would be the same kids missing checks next to their names on more than one occasion.”
I think Paul hit the target on this one. Many times students need that personal connection before they trust someone enough to believe what they say. Learning involves a lot of trust. If a student doesn’t trust a teacher, I don’t believe they will be able to learn and retain that learning for future use. They don’t want me to talk AT them but they want me to talk WITH them. I try to find out something interesting about each student and each day I try to ask them about their interests or comment about something I saw or read about their interest. I like for them to explain more about things they are interested in and sometimes I learn a lot from them. The more I talk and connect with the students, the more I feel connected and invested in their success. It feels as if I try harder and so do my students.
I also think this applies to our colleagues. Too many times I hear teachers complain about their workplace. They complain about the administration and they complain about teachers they need to collaborate with. Maybe if they took time to connect with these people, it might make a difference. I try to learn about their interests and when I see them, I try to ask a question or make a comment about their interests. This takes time and energy to remember things like this. At first, I make a list (yes, I love my lists) of people and beside it I write about their interests. If I know I will meet with someone the next day, I look up their interests and may even look for a news story about their interest or think of a question that I could ask them about it. The more I do this, the less I need my list. Before long we are connecting on a more personal level which helps when we disagree on something. It also makes it more comfortable to share new ideas or make suggestions.
It would be interesting to see data on how this would make a difference in the workplace atmosphere. It would be fun to see how people would rate their workplace comparing those colleagues who connect and those who stay isolated from each other.
I think these connections are important to being successful in the classroom and in life.
Do you connect with your students? Do you connect with colleagues? If so, what are some things that you do? Please share.
Image: 'Pitaya (light green)'