- There are 3 ways teachers can reach students on a deeper level.
- Establish rapport and build trust with students by asking more questions about them.
- Have office hours to provide students with a safe place to be honest and ask questions.
- Provide opportunities like emotional check-ins where students can share their feelings.
Teachers are already going above and beyond when it comes to their students. It can be exhausting just thinking about adding something else to your agenda. But what if I told you that these extra “efforts” don’t have to be big at all, but still make a huge difference in a student’s life? I spent a lot of time in school teaching my own teachers about something called Tourette Syndrome. It is a neurological disorder that I was diagnosed with when I was 7. This caused some things to be a bit more difficult for me at times. There were times where teachers went above and beyond in my mind by making small efforts that meant a great deal to me.
So, what are these efforts and how will they make a difference? Most of these options are trust builders. Tiny little acts of kindness that create an environment where a child feels safe and respected, which in turn makes them respect you.
Reach Students on a Deeper Level #1: Ask Questions
No, I don’t mean questions about the material covered in the class. I mean questions about your students’ lives. This could be about their lives in or outside of the classroom to get to know them a little better. This creates rapport with your students and makes you seem like you want to know more about them, which builds an even stronger bond and trust. Building that trust can create a safe space for the student to start asking questions and being honest about their struggles.
Reach Students on a Deeper Level #2: Office Hours
I know this one is a bit more effort than just asking questions, but offering the service of being there allows the student to be more open about things he/she might not be while in the classroom. No one wants to be the kid who constantly asks questions in front of everyone over and over again and puts themselves out there in front of their peers. Office hours give the student a safe place to be honest with the teacher. This allows the student to get the help they need without being put in the “spotlight” in the classroom.[scroll down to keep reading]
Reach Students on a Deeper Level #3: Mood/Emotional Check-Ins
This one can be simple! With all the craziness we have had in the last year, children and young adults can have an even harder time in school with so many other emotions rushing through their minds. From in-person school to virtual, to being home constantly without seeing their friends, times can be hard since for some students school was their only escape.
You can use a Post-It note practice. This doesn’t even have to happen every day, but maybe once every couple of weeks. Each Post-It note can be a different feeling for students to display. They can choose whether or not they go more in-depth. But even if they don’t, it allows them to get their feelings out even if just for a second. It may seem small or silly, but giving that small moment to just say “I’m not feeling my best today” can make a huge difference.
About Britney Wolf
Britney Wolf has one mission – to create an environment in which every person in the room feels validated and cared about. After being diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome at 7 years old, she made a promise to herself and to the entire Tourette Community that she would educate, spread awareness, and fight for the stigma of this disorder to one day be erased. Along the way, she discovered how to empower and motivate those around her because of Tourette Syndrome, rather than in spite of it.