Teacherscribe’s Teaching Tip #119
Here is a very interesting read from one of my favorite bloggers (Life of an Educator) - 10 Pieces of Advice for new Teachers.
Here are the ten pieces of advice -
1. Strong student relationships will be your best friend.
John Maxwell talks about the need for friends not fans. I think that is so essential for young teachers. The point is not to have “fans” (students who you try to impress with all that you know and how fun your classes are); the point is to have “friends” (students who are encouraged to challenge you and see you as you struggle with them as a co-learner).
This was something I didn’t learn, unfortunately, until the spring of my first year.
I had one student who drove me nuts but we became close. His name was Adam.
He asked if he could eat lunch in my room.
I asked him why.
Adam said that he was trying to quit smoking and every time he went up town during lunch with his friends they ended up smoking.
I allowed him to sneak his lunch tray out of the lunch room (a big no-no back then) and bring it up to my room. We did that for a couple of weeks. We just ate and talked.
I didn’t know it at the time, but I was cementing culture with Adam.
You see, he was part of the sophomore class that drove me nuts, especially my last period class.
But something happened over the course of those lunches with Adam: I developed an ally.
When I was struggling to get the class back on track, Adam would actually help. If his peers were goofing off, he’d actually try to get them back on track.
Now, it wasn’t perfect, but it was a seismic change from where I had been earlier in the year.
Then one day my stapler turned up missing. The last block had a knack for taking my stuff and hiding it, just to piss me off.
This time, though, I wasn’t biting. I wasn’t going to let them know how much this drove me nuts. I was not going to let them get to me.
Then one day while I was having lunch with Adam, I told him about the missing stapler.
“Reynolds, man,” Adam said wolfing down his chicken sandwich, “I’m on it. I’ll find that for you.”
Sure enough, a few days later during class I heard “Reynolds! Reynolds! Reynolds!” coming from the hallway.
I peeked out my door and there was Adam with a fellow student’s locker pried partly open.
“Reynolds, I told you!” Adad said with the top of the locker pried back with both his hands while his left foot was against the adjacent locker as he leaned all of his weight into pulling the locker back as far as he could. “Your stapler is in here!”
I peeked in, and, sure enough, there it was. I reached in and retrieved it.
I knew I had an ally then. As the year progressed, I began to win over more allies. And while that first year was nowhere near perfect, I had many of those sophomores sign up in hordes to take my journalism class over the next two years.
To this day, I’m still very, very, very close to a large number of those kids.
They taught me the importance of building relationships.