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Life Skills Support Teacher, Mifflinburg PA

I really like those ideas

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I really like those ideas that you have shared. I try to do the same things in my classroom as well. My students come in each morning and get breakfast. We begin our day eating breakfast and chatting about their evening the night before. they enjoy this time, and so do I . I really get to know my students well. I ask questions to show interest in their activities outside of school. I also make it a point to go to a few of my students' baseball games. Half of my class on a challenger league for baseball. I feel like a celebrity when I attend the games. They love it and always waving from the field. The parents also appreciate that I take the extra time to do things like that. I think that getting to know your students' and what interests them will help you in your everyday teaching.

7th Grade Math Teacher

Thank you so much for these

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Thank you so much for these suggestions. As of recently, I have been making it a priority to find ways to motivate my students. I recently researched how to increase motivation and one of the commonalities I found amongst resources was to establish relationships with students. As mentioned in your post, getting to know your students establishes a sense of trust. These relationships and the trust that develops is a main source of motivation. A sense of belonging and that they are cared for influences students to want to work for the teacher that is providing them with that positive feeling.

I agree with you that if the students sense your interest in their lives, they are likely have to increased interest in your classroom. I really like your idea about being available. I teach at the middle school level and I feel that at this point in my students lives, they could use an adult for guidance. I have never considered making myself available on a consistent basis like you have. I can see that this would provide your students with a sense of belonging and allow them to trust in you. In many cases, it is the troubled student who has low motivation. By being available to be a trusted adult in their lives, it is likely that your availability during difficult times will also increase their motivation in class.

Once again, thank you for your ideas. They are very practical considering the limited amount of class time available to get to know students. Most of all, I find that your suggestions are likely to truly impact a child's life. As educators, that is our mission. I hope that strategies like yours help to fulfill this mission.

Nicholas, thank you for the

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Nicholas, thank you for the valuable insight and points you have offered here. It is apparent that you really care for your students and that you understand the need to connect with them on a real and personal level. This is so needed in the realm of education today, and I hope/pray that many more like you would begin to pursue connections with their students even if it means sacrificing some of their personal time. As you mentioned, “there is more to school than just a report card”, and we as educators need to be prepared to live accordingly. Applying the three principles that you mentioned, and others like them, are incredibly important if we hope to have a lasting impact on our students for the better. Of my many memories from high school, some of the most impactful were those that did not have anything to do with the curriculum, classroom, or grades. Rather they were the personal relationships formed with teachers that developed through times outside of class such as extracurricular activities found during breaks, school field trips, community service projects, and athletics. I remember the value of having an adult there for me to discuss the issues of life, and to provide helpful counsel through the process. Even more than providing answers to my questions and concerns was the value of having someone who showed that they genuinely cared for me through their listening. This type of engagement goes a long way, and as you referenced, will have students coming back to continue the relationship even after they leave our classrooms. Thanks again for sharing, and for the steps you are taking to engage with your students on a personal level.

AP Literature teacher from Miller Place, NY

Our students are people,

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Our students are people, first and foremost. They are discovering who they are and who they want to become, and having that personal connection helps improve the student-teacher relationship immeasurably. Well put, Nicholas.

As an English teacher, I believe this same sort of connection should be established with my students as writers. Instead of using a red pen to copy edit my students' work, I believe even unexpected interactions leave last impressions. I try to give informal feedback in the cafeteria, when passing in the hallway, or when a student arrives to class early. Saying, "hey, I really liked the evidence you offered in your body paragraph" or "that thesis statement really stood out" lets a student know we value their work and it lingers in our minds past the 42 minutes of a period.

A few words in passing is worth more than 30 minutes of comments scribbled in red ink.

K-5 Instructional Technology Specialist, Edcamper, Graduate Professor

Hi cdavies, As a former

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Hi cdavies,
As a former classroom teacher of sixth graders, I would indeed ask the kids where they were playing if they were participating in a sport or play or some other activity. My students weren't weirded out at all, and were actually thrilled when I would make an appearance.

High School English Teacher from Navajo Nation

I really liked the Idea

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I really liked the Idea Paint. I'm trying to convince my principal to let me do that to my classroom next year for better student engagement.

I coach an elementary teacher

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I coach an elementary teacher who greets her kids at the door with an offer: "Hand-shake, high five, fist bump, or hug today?" There is so much deep acceptance in that moment of each of them. Secondary school teachers can do it without the hug offer--breaking through the anonymity of high school is critical for so many reasons, and it can take all of a minute at the door--and boy does it feel good to do it as the teacher!

Producer LD Podcast, Digital Media Consultant, Author

I think making your classroom

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I think making your classroom a learning family requires getting to know each other better- for after school activities, if kids bring up little league, asking them about it or the next game would be ok I think- after middle school in the States, these things often happen on school property so it's less weird than showing up on a Saturday to a kid's game unless invited by a parent, or if there are a large number of kids in the class in the same activity- and I always fall back on simply ask the parent and tell them why- "Hi, i heard Joey is excited about his first game on Saturday- he's been working so hard in class, I was thinking about stopping by just to offer a word of encouragement- do you think that's ok?" And the parent can help you make that call. We also have to remember sometimes the activities outside of school are also opportunities for kids to be their non-school selves, and for some kids, it may make them feel more under the microscope- that's when you have to go with the folks involved rather than a blanket policy.

grade 4/5 teacher from ON, Canada

I enjoyed this read so much.

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I enjoyed this read so much. Some great simple ideas. I especially love the idea of attending extra-curriculars. As a primary teacher I'm wondering how to approach this. Do you just ask them where they are playing? Does this request ever weird out any of your students or parents?

Thanks for the inspiration.

Founder of Get Yourself Into College™, Inc. & English Professor (part-time)

Nicholas, It really is so

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Nicholas,

It really is so amazing how simple things like 5 minutes of free-ranging discussion, attending a student's performance, or just being there can make a huge difference in a student's life.

I think that sitting in my office with the door open was one of the most important things I did when I was a post-doctoral fellow at the Macaulay Honors College of the City University of New York.

Sure, I had lots of official advising and mentoring sessions, but I still feel that just being there for them--to chat, to learn about what they were learning about, to answer questions, to nod my head, to sympathize, to share opportunities, and prod (when necessary)--was my most valuable service.

The directors of the school emphasized the importance of opening up and sharing with them our own scholarly work--what we found fascinating about it, how we discovered it, and our research process.

Over the years, I've maintained this practice of giving students a behind-the-scenes glimpse into my life and work. I usually do things like share what it was like for me the first time I read a specific text or how I started developing an interpretation of a particular literary work. This practice has revolutionized my classroom discussions.

You've got me thinking about some of my fondest teaching and mentoring moments, so thanks!

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