Effective Ways to Build Teacher-Student Connect
- 29 April 2022
The post-Pandemic times certainly made us teachers think of the importance of Teacher – Student connect, which has obviously taken a beating recently. The virtual classes may find ways to achieve its objectives but what it lacks is that age-old practice of bonding with the students to facilitate a higher order of knowledge-transfer. Which teacher does not want that magical wand that makes students listen to them, with their eyes and ears peeled open to everything that s/he has to say? Unfortunately, there is no such wand and even if they do exist, they may fail to garner any attention in the modern classroom that offer too many distractions. Then, what can be a solution?
My answer is that there are many solutions rather than one. It is a combination of practices that will eventually result in a better connect. Like any relationship, the teacher-student connect also is based on trust.
Which teacher does not love a small classroom with less number of students? It provides them with an opportunity to know the students personally, monitor their improvement and even give effective, personalized feedback. While all of these are important, there is something that is even better; get to know them. Be familiar. Share stories. Listen to their stories and make interaction as smooth as possible. Not only will this make your class a lot chattier than you would like, they will also listen to what you have to say, be it a chapter on Macro Economics or a bad day at work!
Many teachers find it nearly impossible to understand the students because as the gap between them increases, it gets even more difficult to connect. There is only one way to make sure this does not happen. Keep yourself open. As much as you are interested in upgrading yourself with a gadget or the latest car, upgrade yourself and keep at it. Because a teacher’s job is out there, amongst the students, not behind a desk with your head buried inside the glossy pages of a subject guide or a few set of papers. Understand the language of the students, what they are fascinated with and how far they go to express themselves. Remember, you will be listened to only if you are a good listener.
Everyone knows how much planning we do. We have Unit Plans, Syllabus Plans, Planning Meetings… How many times have we shared these plans with the students? Some of us might expect them to read Managebac but the fact remains that a plan is better when explained in person. In my experience, when a teacher explains a plan regarding a chapter or a unit, the students feel comforted about the fact that they are a part of the plan. Not only does this unify the class to an extent it also gives us a goal to stick to that plan and reach its end with meticulousness. So, plan all you want, but take the students also in to confidence when you gotta share them.
Some students catch up very fast. Some don’t. Teachers need not be told this universal truth because we are pioneers of handling such classes every year. But what could significantly improve the collective result of a class is when we devise a method to make sure help is given to those who need it the most. A student’s demand for help may come right after a class. Or, it may come right before a UT or a Trial exam. But we have sworn to help them and that is what we will do. Whether it is correcting a late submission and giving a feedback or even comforting the student over a phone call by explaining a unit or chapter, we must do it.
Gone are those days when students see teachers as super humans who know how to tackle every situation in life. One easier way to connect with them is to be human. The fact that we are also vulnerable to slip-ups, mistakes and errors need not make you look weak. Show them how we learn from our mistakes and who knows, it might just be the perfect lesson that some of them needed at that time. Haven’t we seen a lot of them messing up and picking themselves over and over again? Just let them know subtly that we have goofed up too.
One of the biggest challenges of teaching in the era of excessive fascination for faster communication is the most of our students are creative in their own unique ways. Everyone’s got ideas and many are expressive about it. Teachers, if they want to survive in a classroom like that, must show the students how creative you can get. This is not specific to any subject group, like Arts or Languages, but all subject groups because creativity is an indefinite part of each and everything we do.
How many students have we seen dealing with extreme anxiety over exams and other academic performances? Sometimes, all it takes is a bit of attention and re-assuring from the teacher’s side, a pat on the shoulder or an encouraging message or text. It might even super-boost them if you appreciate them in the class. Then you are setting a bar for them that they will continue to raise. Go ahead and don’t mince your words when it comes to appreciation.
My generation grew up with a taboo on asking questions. Well, if Step 1 and Step 2 are taken care of, students will have no problem asking questions in the class. For me, a class that asks questions is the best class because that makes it more organic, conversational and presents ample opportunities to go beyond the set lines of a curriculum and give them something extra. My students fondly call it ‘the end-credit scene’. Accept the questions with a generous smile and confidence and answer them back with the graciousness. This itself is a lesson you can give them; that, questions and answers are a way to their hearts!
Dr. Manu S Kurup
IBDP L&L and TOK Facilitator
Class Teacher for DP1 B