Since the beginning of the semester I’ve heard conflicting things from both my Special Methods class and my Education class. Okay, this has occurred during the entirety of my college career where I have been getting two different things from two different departments. So, imagine my surprise when I started to see something lining up between the two. On Tuesday we talked in class about the importance of building relationships with our students and letting them know that we are interested in what they say.
Relationships are key to helping your students to succeed in the classroom. No, this doesn’t mean that every student has to be your favorite student, but it does mean that you can make every student in your classroom feel like you actually what to hear from them. Why should students want to learn or do work for someone who doesn’t actually care about their success? I know last week’s blog was about the watermelon rinds in our classrooms, and I think this plays into relationships as well.
Not only do student relationships provide you with the opportunity to build your students up, but they also give you the opportunity to learn about their lives and the struggles they have. The more you know a student and the more they trust you the more they are willing to open up to you. Our special education professor in BLOCK talked to us about the importance of knowing what your students are going through. You need to know what is happening in their lives, so that you can help them to the best of your ability. Because no matter what anyone else says the things that happen outside of school can have a very adverse affect on your students’ learning lives.
All that being said I’m not sure I fully know how to do this. Sure, I know how to listen and to be supportive, and maybe it’s not the building part of the relationship that I am worried about. In fact, it’s that part that comes after that I stresses me more. One of my good friends Ali talked in her blog this week about empathy, and how important that is in the classroom. My problem is that I often have too much empathy. I’m the person that will take in every last stray and try and fix all their problems, and while I want to help my students I don’t want that to get in the way of being able to teach them. How do I find a balance? What do I do when I find out something about one of my students that absolutely makes my heart break? Sure, I can keep extra food in my desk for the one’s who need it and I can make allowances for those that don’t own computers, but this seems to me to be so little. I want to build these relationships with my students, but I’m not sure I know what to do with them once they trust me. Trust is such a fragile thing. How do I find that good balance?