“Of teachers and students”
It is one thing to be a knowledgeable teacher with a supreme authority and a prevailing dominance of the classroom; but it is another thing to be a successful teacher with interactional skills that would facilitate the learning.
In fact, many of the problems that arise in the classroom day-in-day-out are related to person-to-person interaction rather than to cognitive failure. Alleviating tensions and providing a stress-free environment would be a major step in the learning. When I say stress-free environment, hear me I’m not advocating an uncontrollable non disciplinary approach to teaching. On the contrary, organization and controlled management of the classroom are equally important. An approach combining better interactional relationships and the magic of calculated controlled learning steps is of paramount importance. The secret is to “teach with love and logic!” Teachers must be urged to mix their warmth and firmness towards the students in their classroom, but with realistic limits. Giving the learner the opportunity to feel secure and assume his own learning are key elements to class performance. Those teachers who show respect towards their students, automatically gain the advantage of having active learners in their classroom. The arrogant or offensive teacher will lose these advantageous qualities because of his or her lack of a sort of “emotional intelligence”. Teachers should assert that respect is the winning card in teacher-student relationship, but also in student-student relationship.
I remember one day in one of my high school classes a student came to me at the end of the lesson and started to cry accusing me of discrimination because I didn’t notice his desire to intervene in the discussion. Of course, the accusation was found less; the thing was that the classroom was crowded (about 40 students) and I couldn’t satisfy all the students desires. But the student felt threatened in his self-esteem and he expressed his concern overtly. You can imagine how many of our students are suffering secretly and how this might put the learning process at stake.What is certain is that we lose a lot in a tense atmosphere.
Here are some ice breaking tips:
- Learn the name of each student as quickly as possible and use the student’s name in class.
- Provide positive reinforcement whenever possible; give students a respectful answer to any question they might ask.
- Listen intently to students’ comments and opinions. By using a “lateral thinking technique” (adding to ideas rather than dismissing them), students feel that their ideas, comments, and opinions are worthwhile.
- Be an active listener. Show your interest in what students may say. As a listener, the teacher should be able to repeat back in his own words what students have said. This does not mean the teacher agrees with, but rather understand, what they are saying. This may also enhance mutual understanding and respect.
- Circulate around the class as you talk or ask questions. This movement creates a physical closeness to the students. Avoid standing or sitting behind the desk for the entire period. Do not allow the classroom to set up artificial barriers between you and the students.
- List and discuss your course objectives on the first day. Let students know how your course can fit in with their personal/career goals. Discuss some of the fears, apprehensions that both you and the students have. Tell them what they should expect of you and how you will contribute to their learning.
- Stress a positive “you can handle it” attitude
- Emphasize your willingness to give individual help.
- Point out the relevancy of your subject matter to the concerns and goals of your students
- Capitalize on opportunities to praise the abilities and contributions of students whose status in the course is in doubt; well-timed encouragement could mean the difference between retention and attrition.
- Use a variety of instructional methods and remember “variety is the spice of life.”
- Urge students to talk to you about their problems, their needs and their expectations.
The quality of teacher–student relationship is the keystone for all other aspects of classroom management. In fact, a strong relationship with a caring adult enables at-risk youth to make life-altering changes. We can not teach students well if we do not know them well or if we put barriers!