Many teachers will begin the school year surveying their students. If they’re like me, they’ll ask about favorite snacks, a student’s ideal day, and what did and didn’t support that child’s learning last year. I’m always impressed by the clarity with which students can reflect on the learning habits and styles that work for them.
Recently, a colleague suggested I add another pair of questions. I want to share these with you and I want to encourage you to begin this conversation in your classroom.
Finish these sentences:
- Teachers who care about me…
- Teachers who don’t care about me…
As we know, if students aren’t sure that we care about them, there will be an ocean of mistrust between us. Children are intuitive, emotional creatures. They thrive in safe, routine and secure environments.
The knowledge that they are being lead by adults who care about them can be the very difference between a child who is willing to take risks and one who opts out. In other words: caring is paramount.
I suggest this conversation begins on paper. Give students a chance to do a brain dump and get as many attributes down on paper as they can. Then, ask them to share how they feel.
Because it’s the start of the school year and because this can be delicate and confrontational, be sure to model with your own answers. Recollect stories from when you were a student and share when you felt cared for and other times when you felt unsupported.
After this conversation, you’ll know how to act and what to say so that your students know without a shadow of a doubt that you care about them. As a bonus, they’ll know a little more about you and the struggles you faced when you were in their shoes.
Let me know what they come up with!