The Top Ten Mistakes Teachers Make with Student-Teacher Relationships
It is not necessary for your students to like you, but it is very important that they think you like them!
Relationships are the cornerstone of your work as a teacher; kids will work harder for you when they know you care about them.
It’s all about Relationships! Relationships! Relationships!
These are the top ten things teachers do that stop kids from thinking that you like them:
1. They don’t get to know their students. When teachers don’t take the time to find out about student interests and strengths they miss valuable opportunities to engage students. They also don’t let the students know them, so there is no human connection; it is just about the work. The brain is a social organ that develops and grows through interactions with others and the teacher is uniquely placed to influence and inspire young minds.
2. They don’t know students’ names and don’t use them. As Dale Carnegie said, to you, your name is the sweetest sound on earth. Using students’ names positively, builds relationships and lets them know that you think of them as people not just as students. Aim to use every student’s name, every day.
3. They don’t greet students at the beginning of the day or lesson. Greeting students at the door is one of the easiest, yet underused behaviour management tools in the teachers’ toolkit. When you stand at the door and greet each student warmly, you set the tone for the lesson and show your students that you are happy to see them, and excited about the learning. Research into the effects of a happy experience on productivity and capability shows that if you begin a task by creating a positive feeling, you will be more efficient and effective.
4. They have favourites. This is one of the worst traits a teacher can have. Of course we don’t like all our students equally, but our treatment of them must appear that we do. Having favourites is unfair and I would venture to say, immoral. All students have the right to access the best of you, their teacher and it is your job to give just that.
5. They talk too much. John Hattie’s research revealed what we all know: teachers talk a lot: 80% of the day! Hattie says this is a problem because it is the students, the learners who should be talking, asking questions, engaging in discussion and enquiry. When teachers insist on being the ‘sage on the stage’, student learning is compromised. According to Glasser, we remember approximately 20% of what we hear, so while the lecture is probably the least effective teaching method, it is the most commonly used. For better ways to engage students in the learning see here.
6. They don’t listen to students. This trait goes hand-in-hand with #5. Listening to students can give us lots of great information, from how well they are learning, how interesting our lessons are, what they are learning, why they are not learning to what is bothering them and why they are not listening in class… I don’t know how many times I have seen ILPs, PLPs, IEPs and behaviour plans, that have been designed for a student with goals set and strategies decided with no input from the student. How can they achieve a goal they don’t even know about?
7. They yell. Recently, the TV show, Family Feud asked the question, ‘We surveyed 100 people and came up with the top 8 answers to this question: What strategy do teachers use to control their class?” The top answer was ‘yelling’. This is not a strategy!! Yelling means you have lost the plot, you are out of control and the kids know it. You have resorted to ‘I can yell louder than you so do what I say’ tactics. For evidence based behaviour management strategies see here.
8. They don’t apologise when they have made a mistake. One of the most powerful learning opportunities is missed if an adult cannot admit that they made a mistake. It is the chance to show remorse, demonstrate how relationships can be repaired and talk about ways to move forward. We all make mistakes sometimes and do or say things we wish we hadn’t, and that’s okay. Taking responsibility for your actions and showing that you are human can teach your students a great life lesson.
9. Not be consistent. When a teacher gets angry at a student today for doing something they allowed yesterday, the inconsistencies make students feel uncertain and unsafe. No one can be the exactly the same all the time, but you don’t want your students walking around on eggshells. When students are anxious, they will find it difficult to learn. I remember a teacher on one of my pracs who was so stressed in her own life, that she could give no semblance of stability to her class. One day she was happy and laughing with the students and the next day she was cranky and unapproachable. The students were never sure of how she would react to them and often felt humiliated because of her reactions. It was a very unhappy and difficult environment. For ways to be consistent see here.
10. They try to be friends with students. While you are friendly and approachable with students, it is not your job to be friends with them. Ensure you have clear boundaries and limits in how you interact with students, the language you accept and that your behaviour is at all times responsible and maintain a professional approach.