We are at the start of a new year, but the middle of a school year, nearing the end of the first semester, or second quarter, in most places. I would like to ask if you think you are investing in your students? Research has shown that teachers who show their students they care about them as people enjoy greater success for their students. This makes so much sense to me. When I look back on who I felt made a difference in my life as a student or who has made a difference in my boys’ lives as students, I find the answer in teachers who invested in me or my boys as people. This meant they did not treat us as numbers, or test grades, or a “brain”, or a “problem”, or someone who already “gets it”, or someone who is “struggling to get it”, but as people – with all the complexities of being a person, just like those who are doing the teaching.
I have experienced much success in my student groups – over thirteen years of a garden club and seven years of writer’s circle – largely due to the fact that I really, and I mean really, care about my students. Students are savvy. They can easily pick up on who really cares for them and who doesn’t give a rat’s ass – and it is just putting in time between eight in the morning and four in the afternoon. Now, I have a new student group at a new school. I am only there once, possibly twice a month as an after school co-curricular club advisor. I am happy to be there, but am struggling to connect with the students and their families. I want them to know that I am willing and able to invest in them.
So, in what ways are you showing your students that you care? How are you investing in them? This requires some thought because what might be seen as an investment by the teacher sometimes is not recognized as such by their students. I really think to contribute to the success of the students, the teacher has to be seen by their students as someone who really cares.
For example, a teacher might feel they are investing in their students by being available to them before school two days a week and after school two days a week. This action is admirable and one can perceive why the teacher thinks this time is an investment in their students. However, if the teacher is only there because they are required to be (often students do not realize what is required of teachers and what is not), and not because he/she wants to be and shows this attitude through their interactions with the students who come for help before or after school, then it is really not an investment. And, the students will be able to tell! I assure you!
One of my greatest suggestions is that teachers who have children of their own need to think about how they would want to have their children treated by those who are educating them. This is how the children in your class should be treated; as if they are your own. Students spend a large part of their waking hours with you. They deserve someone who is invested in their future.
So, as we start a new year and soon, a new semester, I ask: how are you investing in your students? I would love to know. Happy New Year!