It is not necessary for your learners to like you, but it is very important that they think you like them!
Relationships are the cornerstone of your work as a teacher; your learners will work harder for you when they know you care about them.
These are the top 10 mistakes teachers make with learner – teacher relationships
- They don’t get to know their learners.
When teachers don’t take the time to find out about learner interests and strengths they miss valuable opportunities to engage their learners. They also don’t let their learner know them, so there is no human connection; it is just about the work. The brain is a social organ that develops and grows through interactions with others and the teacher is uniquely placed to influence and inspire young minds.
- They don’t know their learners names and don’t use them.
As Dale Carnegie said, “your name is the sweetest sound on earth”. Using your learners’ names positively builds relationships and lets them know that you think of them as people not just as learners. Aim to use every learner’s name, every day.
- They don’t greet their learners at the beginning of the day or lesson.
Greeting your learners at the door is one of the easiest, yet underused behaviour management tools in the teachers’ toolkit. When you stand at the door and greet each learner warmly, you set the tone for the lesson and show your learners that you are happy to see them, and excited about the learning. Research into the effects of a happy experience on productivity and capability shows that if you begin a task by creating a positive feeling, you will be more efficient and effective.
- They have favourites.
This is one of the worst traits a teacher can have. Of course we don’t like all our learners equally, but our treatment of them must appear that we do. Having favourites is unfair and I would venture to say, immoral. All learners have the right to access the best of you, their teacher and it is your job to give just that.
- They talk too much.
John Hattie’s research revealed what we all know: teachers talk a lot: 80% of the day! Hattie says this is a problem because it is the learners who should be talking, asking questions, engaging in discussion and enquiry. When teachers insist on being on the ‘centre stage’, student learning is compromised. According to Glasser, we remember approximately 20% of what we hear, so while the lecture is probably the least effective teaching method, it is the most commonly used.
- They don’t listen to their learners.
This trait goes hand-in-hand with #5. Listening to your learners can give u lots of great information, from how well they are learning, how interesting your lessons are, what they are learning, why they are not learning to what is bothering them and why they are not listening in class… I don’t know how many times I have seen guidelines and behaviour plans, that have been designed for a learner with goals set and strategies decided with no input from the learner. How can they achieve a goal they don’t even know about?
Regardless of the reason why you yell at your learners, yelling is an indication of inadequate classroom management. The fact is, there is nothing to be gained from raising one’s voice above what can be heard by your learners. There is much, however, to lose. Whenever you raise your voice, you’re communicating to your learners that you only mean what you say when you yell. And to them, the louder you are, the more you mean it. So when you speak in a normal voice, whatever you say is understood by your learners as less important and it carries less weight (they will tune you out). They come to believe that you only really mean what you say when you shout, yell, or raise your voice.
- They don’t apologize when they have made a mistake.
One of the most powerful learning opportunities is missed if an adult cannot admit that they made a mistake. It is the chance to show remorse, demonstrate how relationships can be repaired and talk about ways to move forward. We all make mistakes sometimes and do or say things we wish we hadn’t, and that’s okay. Taking responsibility for your actions and showing that you are human can teach your learners a great life lesson.
- Not be consistent.
When a teacher gets angry at a learner today for doing something they allowed yesterday, the inconsistencies make learners feel uncertain and unsafe. No one can be the exactly the same all the time, but you don’t want your learners to be overly careful. When your learners are anxious, they will find it difficult to learn.
I remember a teacher in one of the public schools I used to work at. She was so stressed in her own life that she had no stable appearance. One day she was happy and laughing with the learners and the next day she was cranky and unapproachable. The learners were never sure of how she would react to them and often felt humiliated because of her reactions. It was a very unhappy and difficult environment.
- They try to be friends with learners.
While you are friendly and approachable with your learners, it is not your job to be friends with them. Ensure you have clear boundaries and limits in how you interact with your learners, the language you accept and that your behaviour is at all times responsible and maintain a professional approach.