Here are some sure fire ways to ensure that your students will learn something from your lesson:
1. Treat them as inferior. Make remarks about your own intelligence while cutting down their responses to your questions or the questions they ask you. Act as though you are better than they are because you are the teacher.
2. Be indifferent. Do not respond with kindness when students try to engage you in conversation. If you are too nice they will not respect you. Expect that they do not talk to you at the beginning of class since you are too busy preparing your lesson.
3. Try to be their friend. Do not set clear, standard rules for behaviour and expect students to follow them. Instead tell jokes that you think they would like even if they are inappropriate. After all, you are just trying to build a relationship at all costs. If you really like some students over others, give them more attention so that you will enjoy your time in the classroom.
4. Show judgmental attitudes. If students give excuses for their incomplete homework, scoff, roll your eyes and criticize their reasons for not having it done. Belittling them in front of their peers will only make them behave more responsibly in the future.
5. Get angry when students correct you. You will make mistakes as you are human, but no student should ever point them out to you because it’s disrespectful. If students correct you, deny they are correct and move on with your lesson. They are only kids, so they will believe you must be right.
Okay, so you must have realized by now that this is not a list but an anti-list. The behaviours listed above will NOT have a positive effect on your teaching. This list makes a key point regarding teachers’ relationships with students: 21st Century students expect a positive relationship with their teachers. Without an encouraging environment, modern students will not be as inclined to engage in classroom learning. Teaching a subject is never all about the subject. Classroom management and interaction with the students will affect their engagement in your lessons.
Here’s what you should do to prime students for your lessons:
1. Treat them with respect. Talk to them respectfully and expect this behaviour that you have exampled to be reciprocated. When students do not behave respectfully, correct their behaviour as discreetly as possible. The goal is for students to learn how to behave more appropriately and this does not happen overnight.
2. Be kind and approachable. Students will want to talk to you at the beginning of class with whatever individual concerns they may seem unimportant to you but feel very important to them. It’s best to be prepared for class and available for student interaction upon their arrival; however, if this is not possible tell the students that you are more than willing to address their concerns at the end of class or at an appropriate moment during the class.
3. Don’t mistake the teacher-student relationship for a friendship. You are the authority figure in the room. Certainly be kind, engaging and respectful, but do not succumb to the feeling of wanting the students to like you. There will be moments that students will definitely NOT like you because you will make judgments regarding their assignments, work skills and behaviour. Realize that sometimes students learn to appreciate your decisions in time and that some may never agree with you. It’s more important to fairly and consistently implement the rules.
4. Reserve judgment. In many cases, you do not have an accurate picture of what is going on at home. Be empathetic to their expressed difficulties and talk to them further at the end of class if necessary to discuss your concerns about their incomplete work. Not everyone has the same family, values, or upbringing, so you may not clearly understand the student’s life outside of school. Also, it’s possible that the student who has not completed the homework is already having a really BAD day! Do you really want to be credited for making it worse?! I think not.
5. Be humble when students point out errors. As stated above, you are human and will make mistakes. How you handle such situations will be an example to your students – an example as to how to behave when they make mistakes! Such situations are an opportunity to let a student shine a little. After all, they are engaged in your lesson and have noted a contradiction or falsehood. It’s okay to tell them that they were right and you are proud that they noticed it. I say, “Thank you. I’ll fix that for next semester.”
It may not be what you signed up for, but it’s a reality that today’s students implicitly expect to have positive interaction with their teachers. Fostering positive and appropriate relationships with your students will go a long way in their academic progress.