What kind of message do you send your students? Do you truly take the time to get to know those smiling (or sometimes maybe not so smiling) faces in your classroom every day.
As educators, it is important to build those strong teacher-student relationships so that students feel safe to learn in your classroom. More than often it’s not that students do not like your class or that they don’t want to learn, students simply have tons of baggage to deal with outside of the classroom. That is not an excuse; it is the truth. Believe me, I do not tolerate excuses. After all, everyone has baggage. However, think about how many years you have on your students… We have had the time to learn our life lessons and figure it out. We, educators, are here to help our students figure it out!
In my classroom, on the very first day (without greeting my students at the door), I hid i the back of the room. I left them a note saying that I would be right back and to find a seat. Impressively, they did just that! After a couple of minutes of chatter, I started my letter to my students–a recording of a letter I wrote. The room went silent. Some wondering how the video magically started, but then settling into complete attention. My letter was from the heart and what I want to say to EVERY student if I had the chance. The words were too powerful to say in person because I know that tears would trickle down my face.
I have this letter printed for students that need a friendly reminder of how much I truly care about them. I challenge you to do the same. Break down your walls; be vulnerable. You do not need to be Mr. (or Mrs.) Tough Guy on day 1, like many say. Just be human because that is what students need.
I just want you to know that!