Go Ahead Teacher. Make My Day.
Recently our school had a visit from one of my former students. His name is Toby Gerhart, and he’s a running back for the Minnesota Vikings. He came by to encourage the students and to sign autographs. It was a really nice gesture from a really nice guy. Speaking with him at lunch, he spoke fondly of the time he spent in 8th grade. He said I was his favorite history teacher, because I made history fun. I don’t know if he was just saying that to make me feel good, but it worked. I felt good.
My goal every year is to give each student a year he/she will remember. Teaching 8th grade, I know that once my students leave my class, they’re going to go to high school where some of their greatest memories will be made. Let’s face it. When most of us think about our school years, we don’t go back to the middle school years. We remember high school more vividly.
Well, I make it a goal of mine each year to try and make 8th grade one of my students’ greatest school memories.
To do this, there are some strategies that I’ve picked up over the years to help make the students feel important. I want to make their day – every day. Here are 20.
20 Ways to Make Your Student’s Day
1. Make your lessons amazing.
2. Ask them, “Why can’t all my students be like you?”
3. Laugh at their jokes – even the dumb ones.
4. Surprise them with a reward for no reason.
5. Email the parents with a positive message, but don’t tell the student.
6. Remember their birthday.
7. Say, “I’m proud of you.”
8. Give them high fives or hugs. I only give hugs at the end of the year, and even then, I’m careful to do one of those side shoulder hugs. Guy teachers have to be careful.
9. When they answer a question right, say, “Smart boy right there.” (or Smart Girl)
10. Notice and compliment their haircut.
11. Remember what they notified you of yesterday. “Did you win your game last night?”
12. Make you lessons amazing.
13. If they do something dumb, tell them that you did the same thing when you were their age, even if you really didn’t.
14. Put their work on the wall, even if it’s not the best.
15. When they tell you, “Teacher, I have an idea,” make a big deal about it. Stop traffic in the halls. Get everybody to stop what they’re doing. Say, “Hey everybody, stop! Johnny has an idea!” It sounds like sarcasm, but the student really does like the attention.
16. When a student enters you class late, make a big deal. Say, “Yay! Billy is here!” Start the wave.
17. When you see a student who is having some emotional problems, ask them, “Do you want to talk about it?” They’ll probably say no, but they’ll appreciate your concern. Then ask them again later on, and tell them you’re worried about them. Offer to send them to the counsellor.
18. Talk about them to another teacher while the student is listening. “Don’t you wish you had a classroom full of students like Michael?”
19. Look them in the eyes when they are telling you their world-changing-no-hope-at-all-gonna-forget-about-it-tomorrow problem. Don’t laugh.
20. Make your lessons amazing.
As you can probably figure out, the majority these involve showing sincere concern for each of the students in your class. Making your lessons amazing also helps to make the time your students spend in your class memorable. They probably won’t remember what you taught them, but they’ll remember how you made them feel special, and they’ll want to come back and visit you after years later. That’s a nice feeling, even if you don’t remember their names.
It was great seeing Toby again. I’ve become a Viking fan, and every time I see him on TV, I yell to my family, “Look! That’s my student!” My family just ignores me.
What do you do to make your students feel special? In two years from now, will they smile when they remember the time they spent in your class? Will they want to come back and visit you?
Make this the best year your students ever had.