The Rewards and challenges of Student-Teacher Bonds
We all want to feel cared for and valued by the significant people in our world. Students are no different. They like to be loved, liked and appreciated by all.At home they look to their parents for love and affection, in school they want their teachers to appreciate and understand them. Teacher-student relationships have developed deepest roots since the ancient times. India is the only country in the world where teacher-student relationships have got a divine status and significance.
Healthy Relationships encompass self esteem, confidence and pave the way for making a self sustained learning environment in and across the school boundary walls. Aristotle wrote ‘Those who educate the children are more to be honoured than their parents because these give them life but those the art of living well’.
Demonstrating Caring Culture:
In our school right from early morning as the children enter the school gate caring culture begins. Our school administrators, teachers, school security men, co-staff come to their respective posts to receive their proteges.
Demonstrating caring is one of the most powerful ways to build positive relationships with your students. When your actions and words communicate that you sincerely care for your students, they are more likely to want to perform well for you and enjoy coming to school. Caring also fosters a preventive approach to discipline, as students who feel cared for are more likely to want to please you by complying with your wishes and policies. It is a tragedy when a student mistakenly believes that his teacher does not care for or likes him. In most cases, teachers do care but fail to do the things that directly communicate this valuable message. Welcoming the students at the school gate, helping them to tie shoe laces, opening their tiffin-box tightly closed by parents, helping them in the medical room are some of the demonstrative caring acts with which a teacher can create a win-win situation.
Starting the Right Day Off:
Imagine a situation when a child reaches school after a squabble with his sibling or mom or have an argument in the school bus and still he is reeling from the same tiff and next moment is his Science or Maths class test. Do you think he will perform well? Every day, our students come to us with emotional or physical baggage that may hinder learning. The best way to start the day is to remove the negative burden they may bring with them to the school. A class teacher or subject teacher must start his day’s teaching with a healing touch connection with his students. Teachers must have the mindsets to make students write down their worries or troubles or share them with them secretly or openly as per the gravity of the problem or situation.
Honouring Special Days and Achievements:
While we may be used to celebrating birthdays or other similar milestones of our own children but not every child is as lucky. For these students having a teacher acknowledge that it is their birthday and how well they did in the previous day class test or football match can help alleviate the sorrow or burden for not getting attention or care at home. Setting time at the end of the day to discuss what students accomplished can boost a child’s self esteem and broaden a sense of caring and sharing in your teaching. The benefits of connecting with students can be twofold. It can lead to better student success rates and it can play a huge role in creating a holistic and nurturing teaching environment. Learning how to establish effective connecting skills by spending more time, providing routines, and showing acts of kindness all contribute to a caring environment in classrooms.
Going the Extra Mile:
Teacher-Student relations are reciprocal. A good teacher is a key to a student’s success, but success also depends on support and encouragement at home. Many students simply aren’t getting this support, and teachers recognize the need to support students outside the classroom – sometimes by visiting their homes.
Teachers can play significant roles in a young person’s life. I often get very strange complaints from parents that their children often refuse to eat a particular food as her teacher has advised her not to eat it or the child likes to wear a particular dress of his teacher’s favourite colour. Many of our students even invite our teachers home on important family celebrations. Thus, a teacher can build a strong bond with his students by sharing and caring beyond academics.
Let Students Have a Voice:
In my daily teaching routine I try to bring such teaching-learning novelty that enjoins the children to share their viewpoint regarding a topic, concept or theme being taught. We relate curriculum to a situation that the child really feels is existing before him in a real looking situation. I recently attended a workshop where the facilitator stopped and said she needed to WAIT. As we all looked at her, she said WAIT was an acronym that stood for Why Am I Talking? She realized she had been doing all of the talking. As teachers we talk a lot. I know at times I monopolize the conversation. This year I’m using WAIT to help remind me that when I give students opportunities to share their thinking, I’ll gain valuable insight into their thinking and learning.
Praise in public, correct in private:
Praise is the most useful behavioural management tool that helps to maintain healthy teacher-student relationship. Praise and admiration in terms of relevant and appropriate verbal or written praise words work wonder on students. ‘Amazing Effort’! ‘You are very responsible!’ ‘You are great’! ‘What a Great Idea’! etc are praise words that help the child to build a positive self improvement attitude in academics and expected behaviour. In contrast to it, correction instructions in public may ruin the chance of setting up positive relationships. Positive things have a much more powerful effect on shaping behaviour than any punishment. Each time we embarrass children with punishment we pay a price – we drive them away from us and we lose our ability to be a role model for them.
When the new year’s first publication of The Progressive Teacher will be out, all of us will be still basking in the glory of the old year but our children will be preparing for the upcoming examination times. Here is a very short poetry piece by Valerie Welk to wind up this article:
I promise you everyday your
Children will learn something.
Some days they will bring
Home in their hands.
Some day they will bring
Home in their head.
And some days they will bring
Home in their heart.
Ashok Singh Guleria, a teacher of 21 years standing, is a post- graduate in English Literature. He writes on pedagogical issues and children’s behavioural concerns. He has worked as Head of Department of English, curriculum planner and Academic Coordinator cum Teachers’ Trainer at the Akal Academy Group of Schools managed by the Kalghidhar Education Trust, Baru Sahib, at Kajri in Uttar Pradesh. He works as Principal at Akal Academy, Gomti. Besides, he is pursuing a Master degree in Psychology from IGNOU.
He strives to develop and facilitate the building of a robust and sustainable teaching-learning fraternity with a strong sense of work culture.
He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org