Teacherscribe’s Teaching Tip #2
Okay. Relationships are vital. How do I build them?
One answer I’ve stumbled upon is to get to know my students. I do this on the first day by making them write a list of 111 Things About You.
Students complain, but when they actually get started, the lists don’t actually take that long. I mean, who doesn’t like to talk about themselves? Especially teenagers?
I tell them that they can list obvious things (their names, addresses, family members, and activities), random things (favorite color, music, movies), and important things (relationships, passions, beliefs).
Then I spend a couple days pouring over them. I am always amazed by the incredible things I learn about students.
Two years ago, I had Elle as a student. She wrote how she hated Iron Man. Totally random and seemingly trivial. However, in the same class I had Alyce, who put down that she loved Iron Man. I used this trivial information to joke with them in class and to start laying a foundation of a relationship.
Two years later I received the kindest letters from both of them. Both thanking me for the time I invested in them and how much I cared about them.
Elle thanked me for inspiriting her to see how English ties into history (and she is double majoring in English and History education). She also thanked me for a card I gave her when her grandfather passed away (something else I learned from her 111 list when she wrote about his illness).
Alyce thanked me for being the first teacher to make her feel good about being a geek and encouraging her to let her freak flag fly. I encouraged her to do that based on all the conversations we had over her passions and interests, many of which I learned about from her 111 List.