Hi friends! I wanted to stop by today and discuss some simple ways to build relationships with your students. If you’ve talked to me at all, you know I value relationships with my kiddos above all else. I truly think my role is to love them first and educate them second. Of course, this is not how every teacher feels, but it’s totally my teacher heart!
Before I gave you some tips, I wanted to share a few powerful quotes that drive me each day. They perfectly describe what I have seen in my own classroom and what I believe to be true.
Now…for a few tips! All of the ideas I’m blogging about to don’t require any extra prep-work, money, etc. 🙂 They are simple things that you can build into your daily routine that will make a HUGE difference.
First, LAUGH! Your kiddos LOVE to see you laugh. I hate the motto “don’t let them see you smile for the first 6 weeks of school.” I promise you…they will react much better if they enjoy being with you than if they are scared of you! A few simple ways I build silliness into my classroom…read silly books (The Book With No Pictures, The Day the Crayons Quiet, any Elephant and Piggie), play with them at recess (they LOVE to see you run…especially when you can can’t keep up with them), make jokes, and just be YOU!!
It is HARD to remember the small details of every kiddos life. I would suggest choosing your most difficult students and getting to know all about them. Mentioning their sibling, or asking about karate practice, shows them how much you care. Just a few simple things can make their little faces light up! 🙂
I think this is truly one of the most important things, especially with our most challenging students. Throughout the day, some of my little nuggets do like 30 things that need to be corrected…but choosing which things to correct has made all the difference. It’s hard for them to connect with you when you are constantly reminding them what not to do. I try to look at behaviors on a scale, and only focus on the ones that really matter. I know that’s a personal philosophy, but I think it makes it a lot easier to build relationships with more challenging kiddos.
Have you ever had one of those days where you think “I can’t take it if ____ does one more thing.” Those are the days we need to focus on the positive even more. If I am frustrated with them, they can probably sense it. When I feel myself having a negative reaction towards a kiddo, I try to find a few great things about them and praise those. It changes my attitude too…almost immediately!
Big kiddos and little kiddos come to school with stories to tell, and we have to listen to them. I know it’s hard…seriously, how do we find time for that too? It’s difficult, but so worth it. Listen first…talk second. 🙂
They love, love, love learning about your life. I try to make a point to share stories about my family, my sweet puppy, funny things I did, mistakes I made. They love it. It helps you seem more human…more approachable!
I believe this is one of the most important tips in this blog post. When something happens, and they are upset (angry, sad, scared) listen FIRST. Talk to them…ask them why they did what they did…there’s almost always a reason. Giving them a consequence when you are both amped up isn’t usually very effective…it usually just escalates the situation and doesn’t actually fix any behavior. After a conversation, your students will usually be willing to accept a consequence. Of course there are exceptions to any rule, but most of the time, they know when they’ve messed up. And if they trust you, they will trust that your consequence is fair.
It’s so easy to brush their feelings off…I’m guilty of it everyday. I always catch myself saying “I’m the teacher and this is the decision I have made.” Sometimes that’s necessary. But sometimes, we can let them have choice. And even if we can’t give them choice, we can let them express themselves. “What are you thinking right now?” “How does this make you feel?” are my go-tos! 🙂
Different kiddos will need different things from you. Some of our students need lots of hugs, and like to hold our hands. Some need quality time with us…they’re the ones that wander over during recess just to chat. Follow their lead…they will show you in their own way! And that will be the best way to reach them!
It was a tough pill for me to swallow when I realized that even when I tried to hide it, my students could tell how I felt about them. I realized that even when I was frustrated, my job was to be positive about them…they have enough negative people in their life…especially our most challenging kiddos. It’s totally okay to vent…or to ask for help. But talking about our students negatively doesn’t help anyone, and it truly does impact the way we respond to them.
This year, I have one of my most challenging students. I can take the most defiant kiddo in school and LOVE them something fierce. This year, though, I have a little guy who isn’t defiant…he doesn’t seem to be attention seeking…we just don’t “click”. I’m sharing this with you, becuase I used to feel so guilty. I finally realized that we won’t connect with every student ever year, but that doesn’t let us off the hook. This year I have learned so much…because that little nugget still needs me. He needs my hugs and smiles, and positive words. And when I speak negatively about him, it will affect the way I respond to him in the future. My challenge to you is to choose your “least favorite” kiddo and don’t let yourself complain about them…ask your team for help, of course, but share their successes. You’ll be surprised how fast it works! 🙂
I hope this blog post was helpful to you! I’m thinking about doing a little webinar about this…is that something that would be helpful to you?? What questions do you have? I’d love to hear them!