With the start of school just around the corner for many school districts, there is a common belief among teachers that it’s important to be tough in the beginning of the year to set the tone of the classroom. You can always ease up later in the year.
I don’t know if I agree with this anymore.
Why do you want to create an impression of being a mean, demanding teacher to your new students?
I enjoyed being the teacher that students loved.
It made classroom management easier. It made student work a little better, and I spent the day happy to be in the classroom.
I think every new teacher wants to be loved by their students. I think every teacher, down deep, would like to be loved by their students.
I know, I know, we’re not there to be loved. We’re there to teach.
We tell ourselves, “Someday, they’ll appreciate how tough I was on them.”
I used to say the same thing.
Over the years, however, I’ve learned that when your students want to be in your class, things run so much more smoothly.
It’s good to be loved. Really.
Here are 10 Ways to Make Your Students Love You:
1. Smile. A happy teacher is easier to love. I always had a hard time with this. Like I’ve mentioned before, I don’t smile naturally. I look angry most of the time, but when I’m around students, I do my best to make the effort to smile. Think about it. Wasn’t your favorite teacher always smiling? Students come in to your class every day looking for some sign of acceptance. Some students enter your class after having a bad experience at home or on the way to school or in a previous class. Finding a smiling teacher helps make everything better. Smile. They’ll love you for that.
2. Listen. Students will want to tell you about how their family just got a new car or a new pet or a new brother or sister. It’s exciting news to them. They want to share it with everybody. Be that person who takes time to listen to their stories. Stop what you’re doing and take time to look them in their eyes and give value to what they have to say. It might not be that big of a deal to you, but by giving value to what makes them excited, you show that you give value to them. They’ll love you for that.
3. Ask. Ask about their family, their pets, their hair, anything about them. Again, let them know you’re interested in them. If they don’t come out and tell you what’s going on in their lives, take the initiative. Let them know that you are sincerely interested in what is going on in their lives. Be their audience of one. They’ll love you for that.
4 . Compliment. Tell them they are amazing. Kids don’t get enough compliments. Nobody gets enough compliments. I don’t get enough compliments, but don’t you love it when people give you compliments? Yes, you do! Be that teacher who notices their new haircut, their new shoes, their really cool backpack. “Hey Johnny, that is one awesome-looking backpack. I want one just like it.” Remind them how special you think they are. They’ll love you for that.
5. Be approachable. Students want to know that they can safely come and talk to you. If students have a question about the homework, are they comfortable coming up to your desk? Is there an invisible wall between your side of the room and their side of the room? What if they have a personal problem, are you the teacher who they can come to? “But Sam, I’m not their counselor. I’m their teacher.” Amazing teachers wear many hats – teacher, counselor, motivator, conflict mediator, etc. Be approachable. They’ll love you for that.
6. Believe in them. You have to believe that every student can be successful. Even that student who doesn’t do anything and seemingly doesn’t care about school can be successful in your class. When you believe this, you will do everything possible to help this student succeed. They may not pass the class, and you may have more gray hairs at the end of the year, but the extra time and energy you invested in that student will not go unnoticed. You never gave up on them, and they’ll love you for that.
7. Stay in control. When a teacher yells in class out of frustration or anger, it’s like burning a bridge between the teacher and the students. Students will make you upset. They’ll frustrate you, but you cannot let them cause you to lose your temper and raise your voice. Students notice when a teacher remains calm even when the class is loud or when a student is being disruptive or defiant. Being calm and in control, even in the middle of chaos, is a hallmark of amazing teachers. Stay in control. Students will love you for that.
8. Adopt. Accept them as your children and not just your students. This is a tough one for many teachers. When our own children make mistakes, we give consequences that are not just punitive, but also teach a lesson. When we see the kids in our class as only our students, our actions are not the same as if we see them as our children. It’s hard to see some of these kids as part of our households, but amazing teachers “adopt” each student on their roster. When they accidentally call you “mom” or “dad”, you know you’re on the right track. Don’t see them as your students; see them as your kids, and they’ll love you for that.
9. Touch. Give high fives and knuckle bumps. There’s something about physical contact that helps break down barriers between people. I know teachers who treat their students like they have some communicable disease. They place this invisible buffer zone between themselves and their students. We have to be careful with touching students, of course, but a high five or a knuckle bump is a good way to make students feel important and respected. It’s like a handshake. We shake the hands of people who we meet as a sign of respect. When you give a high five or a knuckle bump, we make them feel special, and they’ll love you for that.
10. Make your lessons meaningful. Teach the students and not the subject. Boring teachers are not loved by their students – they’re tolerated. Students won’t remember you for the paragraph that they had to write on the American Revolution , but they will remember the funny story you told that brought the American Revolution to life. They’ll remember how you incorporated Justin Beiber or the some other current pop star in the lesson. They’ll remember how you performed a rap song that explained the Bill of Rights. Take that extra time to make your lessons meaningful to your students. They’ll love you for that.
As you probably noticed, all of the tips that I’ve mentioned have some kind of connection with the teacher demonstrating love toward his/her students first. If we don’t love kids, then we’re in the wrong profession. We are going to have a long, frustrating career as teachers if we don’t have the student’s best interest at heart. I feel sorry for those students who land on the rosters of teachers who don’t care for kids. Those teachers don’t read blogs on how to be amazing teachers, unfortunately. Thankfully, you are not one of those teachers. Hopefully, you were nodding your head in agreement as you read this post.
I can’t guarantee that if you do all these things, you will be loved by all your students, but I can say that if you implement these tips, you will have a much greater and longer-lasting impact on the students in your class. You’ll also enjoy your career more.
Like I said earlier, I think that whether a teacher wants to admit it or not, he/she wants to be loved by their students. He/She wants to have students come back and visit in later years. I know that I love it when a former student will come back and say hi. I wish they would wear name tags, however, so I don’t have to ask who they are.
Amazing teachers are loved by their students.
You students will love for that.
Until next time, here’s to your Success In the Classroom!
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