I’m the type of teacher who is ALWAYS in my student’s business. I want to know whatever it is they are willing to share with me. I’d like to say it’s because the more you know about students the more you understand why they move how they move and do what they do. Others may think it’s just because I’m nosey. And both are definitely true. Ha!
I’m a firm believer in the idea that, the relationships you build with your students mold the type of classroom you will have. Oftentimes I think back to this one particular PD (Professional Development) session. My job was doing a series of PDs on Cultural Responsiveness and one of the topics we were discussing was sharing a little of you with the students and how far that can take you. One teacher in my group was completely against it, responding “They don’t care about me and what I do.” At that moment I already knew what his classes were like. They were dry, boring, and probably a mess.
I laughed out loud when he said that, because I knew that if he felt that his kids didn’t care about him, they also felt that he didn’t care about them. So, I shared with him this story that I told my students a few months before.
My daughter Zoey and I went to a friend’s baby shower and we won a fish. We were both so excited to have our first pet. We went to the sore and got a nice size glass vase to put it in and fish food for it to eat. Everything was going well, and every day on the way in and out the house Zoey would stop to look at the fish.
One day I noticed that the fish water was getting a little cloudy and said I’d remember to change the water when I got home. Well two or three days went by and I had forgotten all about the fish. Like completely forgot to feed the fish, let alone change the water. So one day I come home and I look at the fish and the eye is puffy and looked like a blister that was about to pop. I felt terrible and decided I couldn’t let the fish live like this. So, I flushed it. I know TERRIBLE decision, but at the time I thought I was doing what was best for the fish and made a quick decision.
The kids laughed and laughed and then told me how dumb that was. And say, “Ms. why didn’t you just do this,” or “why didn’t you do that?” And they were completely right there were so many other things I could have done then flushing the poor fish. But I made a quick rash decision. That silly story about the fish turned into a 10-minute conversation and lesson on thinking before you act. I was able to have students share out times when they made a quick decision that ended up being the wrong decision. It was such a great unexpected teaching moment.
So, I’m shared this story with the teacher who was really against talking to the students about anything personal. His response was, “we don’t have time to waste on story telling we have things to teach.” Once again, I laughed because I wasn’t surprised by his response. My response to him was along the lines of, “We have ten months to teach content. No, that conversation wasn’t about Math (the content I teach) but it was about life, it was a life lesson. Our students spend majority of their days and hours with us. Our jobs are to teach them. Not just content but to also teach them life lessons, so that when they enter the real world, they are able to navigate their ways to success.
I share a lot of stories with my students, because it creates a safe space for them to come to me when they need guidance. It shows them that I’m human, and deal with struggles outside of school just as they do. But most importantly it builds respect. By sharing some of me and listening to them, my students know that I care about them. I care about their wellbeing but also want to see them succeed. I’m on their side. Behavior is never an issue in my classes because my students know I respect them and I’m return they respect me, themselves and each other.
So, share a story or two, you’ll be surprised the responses you’ll get from them.
I would love to hear (well read) your thoughts, comments, and/or similar experiences. Feel free to leave them in the comments below.