Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Relationships with students in a student driven learning environment

Every year at McDowall at this time, past student come back and visit.  It is not a compulsory thing but it is a bit of a tradition that has grown over the years.  This is my third year at McDowall and in the past week, I have had 12 emails from students telling me that they are on holidays and can't come in and 10 student visits so far.  The kids think that they are pretty cool and it is always great to see them.

This morning, I had a visit from two of my girls from my class from last year.  These two girls are really good kids and generally achieve pretty good academic results.  They will not be brain surgeons when they grow up but they will be productive members of society.  In short, they are great girls who I enjoyed working with last year - the sort of kids who make it worth getting up in the morning when you feel awful.

So they organised a time with me earlier in the week and they snuck into the room this morning.  I didn't notice them and was pleased to see that they had grown into terrific young ladies.  After I got the kids started  on something, I had a really good conversation with them.  They both are going to the same high school (I won't mention the name but it is not an EQ school) and when we got talking, they had some interesting observations.  The thing that stuck with me the most was this statement "Mr Proud, you took an interest in us and tried to cater to our needs," said one of them.  When I asked them to explain what they meant by that, there response was just as fantastic "You always tell us to make the most of everyday because you will never ever have it again.  I feel that some of my teachers don't make the most of everyday.  We have to learn the way that they want to teach because it is easy for them." I then went on to explain that everybody has their strengths and weaknesses and I got cut off "You always said it was all about us and our needs.."  I didn't really have an answer for that because I agreed with her 100%

So how can we continue to foster relationships with students?  I feel that it is not hard to take an interest in your kids.  You will notice that I often refer to my students as my kids.  I do this on purpose.  I truly do believe that they are my responsibility and I try and treat them the way that I would like my own little terrors to be treated.  But why do kids feel such a disconnect with teachers?  Is it our fault or should we blame the easy target - the child? Do we have to be more aware of this in the 21st century?  I am not sure about the answer to that one.

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