I believe that one of the most important things, if not the most important thing, as being a teacher is fostering and developing positive, caring relationships with students. Developing these relationships is not only a huge part of classroom management, but it is also a great part of the child’s well-being. When teachers develop these positive and caring relationships, students, in turn, feel welcome in the class, more motivated to do work, and believe in themselves. I think it is also important, as the article mentioned, to make sure that teachers develop these great classroom environments that provide respect and caring in both ways, student to teacher and also teacher to student. If teachers do exactly what this article says with “acknowledging them, valuing them, respecting them, demonstrating fairness, being real, fun, and humorous” (319), students and teachers will be more successful.
“Students perform much better in environments where they feel comfortable and valued” (317). If students feel comfortable and valued, they will give more effort and be more engaged which leads to better academic growth. Another piece of this is making sure that we get to know our students. It comes naturally to truly get to know my students. I know their academic ability and interests so I am able to provide better instruction. However, there are times where I think I am too focused on what we need to learn that I do forget to include their interests. This made me think about really making sure that during all subjects my students needs are met both academically and interest wise.
When students feel that teachers care about them academically and believe in them, this does lead to greater student achievement. Sometimes, it takes just that one person to believe in a student to make them feel like they can be successful. Also, when students respect a teacher and know that teacher cares about them and had high expectations, they work harder so they do not disappoint their teacher.
The piece about acknowledging students is something that I believe comes naturally to me. I always greet my students, make eye contact, listen to them, and talk to them about academic successes and worries. It was interesting because I think that some of my students did not realize how important and special greetings were until we had to have a conversation about it. During Morning Meeting, I always give my students the opportunity to choose what kind of greeting we will have that day. One day, a student chose a particular greeting where all the students stand up, and walk around the room, trying to greet each student in less than one minute. Two of my students did not like this greeting and just sat and did not participate. I was very upset by this and we all had to have a conversation about how important greetings are and how you cannot always have things your way. I asked them how they would all feel if I did not greet them each morning and I think they realized how important greetings truly are.
A part of acknowledgment that my students have told me they notice about me, is that I am a good listener. They say they can tell by my face that I am listening to them because I show eye contact and excitement while talking to them. However, something that I think I need to work on is paraphrasing and summarizing what my students say. Usually, I go straight towards expressing my thoughts or ways that I can help. Clarification and acknowledgment need to be in the center of my mind. Apologizing and acknowledging when you make a mistake is also something that teachers need to do. I have make mistakes when it comes to many things, but when it comes to being wrong about something that you assume or think a student has done, apologizes are very important and mean a lot to students. This also shows that you are a real person and that you do make mistakes as well.
I really connected with the “being accessible” section of the article because the teachers that have made time for me outside of regular class hours, have been the teachers that I trusted, loved, and who made a huge impact on my life. It truly brings stress level down when you know that a teacher will be there for you if you need help with something. Having someone to rely on has helped me in school and I want to be that for students. I actually did help one of my students because he is very sensitive to sound and recess time was too loud for him. He would always go to the nurse. I told him that if he would like, he could come into the classroom during recess time and sure enough he did. He thanked me for it as well.
The last comment that I would like to make about this article is about the idea of fairness. I think it is very important that teachers are fair, but it is equally as important to realize that fairness does not mean equality. Students need to understand that as well. Students may see fairness as being unequal so this is why it is very important to have a conversation about the difference between the two.