I feel like I was very prepared for planning and executing lessons when I began my first year of teaching in 2004. What I wasn't prepared for was the complexity of the teacher/student relationships. Here are a few things I learned over the years that may be helpful for those who are just starting out!
We like to imagine all our students having happy home lives, but we all know that just isn't always the case. Students who are feeling unworthy and unloved will have a hard time learning, no matter how great your lesson is. We as teachers have to make sure our students know their value as a human being and that they are worth your time. Find ways to show each student you care about them, not just their performance or test scores, but them as a person.
One way I like to do this is to have "Yay & Yuck" time each morning. I divide the class up over the week, and each day 4-5 students get their turn to share with the class something good that happened that week (yay) and something that wasn't so good (yuck). It's a great way to build community in your class and also lets you in to their lives a little more.
Another important part of the teacher/student relationship is making sure they know that you are in charge! My first year of teaching (3rd grade) I really wanted the kids to like me, so I was the easy going fun teacher. Well as you can guess, pretty soon that meant I had no control over my class! It is so important to establish the rules and be very strict the first few weeks of school! Risk being the "mean" teacher for a short time, and then when you have established your control, you can let up a little. Trust me, it's much easier than starting off easy and trying to get your control back later. And the truth is, even if they don't act like it, kids feel safe and loved when there are clear boundaries and they know you will enforce them.
Even though it's challenging, I feel like fostering an appropriate relationship with your students is vital to their success! What other tips do you have for helping each student feel valued? We'd love to hear your ideas in the comments!