Saturday, July 4, 2015

Hello, it's me (Todd Rundgren)

Relationships matter in teaching.

I realised early on in my career that teaching is all about having good relationships and good communication. The two are inextricably linked!

Relationships are about chemistry. Sometimes it's a good mix, and sometimes it's a combustible reaction. And it's all points in between. We're human and (ha ha) they're teenagers (I teach at a girls' secondary school). I'm male and (ha ha) they're female.

Teachers don't always get it right and students don't always get it right. That's where the fun begins.

We've just had teacher parent student interviews. What exhausting fun. 

During this latest set, it struck me what a diverse set of relationships are at play in those interviews: student/teacher; daughter/mum; daughter/father; husband/wife; parent/teacher. Fascinating!

Anyway...made me think about stuff and I remembered an article  I bookmarked recently. It set out four ways to form good relationships with students:

1 Say "Hello". 
I was chatting with a colleague recently who told me she doesn't say "hello" to a student unless she gets one first. I don't work that way.

2 Have a conversation
Sometimes students react with surprise when the conversation continues beyond "Sup?" [It's a bit like checkout operators in food markets after they ask me "How's your day going?" and I launch into a conversation ("Hey thanks for asking. Well I woke up at 5am and had a great breakfast. I really like cereal on a weekday. Blah blah blah.)] Give it a go!

3 Meet kids where they are.
I always travel to where they are during my lunchtime duties - the library, computer rooms, tech rooms and so on. When I was a Principal I always did duty and went to the known smokers' hang outs. Basketball courts are popular. Amazing the effect a Principal can have when they join in the basketball games!

4 Be real.
Kids see through artifice quickly. Their BS detector is on high alert during the teenage years. Save yourself a lot of grief and be real.


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