What if I told you that doing these 6 things at your school would increase achievement in your school? Would you do it?
In an environment where teachers, principals, counselors, and other support staff are often pushed to their limit as far as the amount of time that they are each devoting to their work, it is easy to say that “we don’t have time” to build relationships with our students, but I would argue that it is the one act that will give you an exceptional return on your investment.
Think back to your own educational experience? Who made an impact on you? Was it the teacher who ignored you or the one that showed you he cared about you? Kids will work for people they believe care about them and their wellbeing and are far less likely to have a violent outburst.
Here are 6 actionable ways that educators can show students that they care about them.
Show Love to their Parents
Love on the parents when they come to the school and say thank you when they attend meetings. Make an effort to smile at every parent you pass in the lobby and say hello as they enter your building. If you really want to up your game, make it a point to call 1-5 parents a day just to check in on them, not because something is wrong, but because you want to make sure they are enjoying their experience at your school or in your class.
Use Names & Student Faces Often
Put student faces on their worksheets, the school news, or on the television in the front lobby. Stand at the front door of your school or of your classroom and greet students by name as they enter. The most glorious sound in the world is the utterance of our own name–use it often.
Break Bread Together
Eat lunch with kids in the classroom or in the cafeteria with your students. Meals are time for bonding and building a sense of community. Enjoy seeing students on their own “turf” so to speak. Those students who are often difficult to wrangle in class are often the most fun to invite to lunch.
Show Up & Then Keep Showing Up
Go to their games! Attend the sporting events of your students and cheer them on. It is amazing to see a student who struggles academically knock a baseball out of the park. Kids love to show off and when you show up, it will prove to them that you care.
Ask the Right Questions
Ask your students an “Ask or Know” question. An “ask” question is a follow up to something you already know about the student such as “I know your baby sister was sick last week. How is she doing now?” or “How did you all do at your game this weekend?” This type of question shows that you care enough to remember something specific to that particular student.
A “know” questions is your attempt to learn something about the student that you don’t already know such as, “What do you like to do?” or “What is your favorite food.” Once you have some knowledge about the student under your belt, you’ll be able to follow up with an “ask” question later on which will help deepen the relationship.
Teach Soft Skills
Time and again students find themselves in difficult to manage social situations. As educators, we need to teach students how to tie ties and give firm handshakes. We need to teach students how to cut their food appropriately for a dinner out and how to put their napkins on their laps.
All of our students should know how to disagree in a kind and safe manner and also how to assertively express their opinions. These “soft” skills might seem trivial to some, but for any manager who has ever had a staff member lose their cool, they can tell you, these skills are incredibly important.
*Information synthesized from National Youth At-Risk Conference, Savanah Georgia, 2020 (Ron Clark’s Key Note Speech)