Friday, October 9, 2009

Teachers That Influence -- Who Do Kids Listen To?

I have been thinking about this for a while and decided to ask my high school chorus for their thoughts. I phrased it this way, "Two teachers can give exactly the same directions. One is listened to and one is ignored. What are the qualities of the teacher that kids listen to?"

One response sums up the opinion of many: "Respected and respectful, they easily relate things to the life of the student, allow the students to express their own opinions and views, is laid back yet strict when they need to be, and is fun to be in class with."

Here are some other responses:
"They're likeable they got a rep with other students. The teachers are involved so students aren't necessarily always in a classroom atmosphere with them."
"Need to be able to discipline students when needed. Always appear in absolute control"
"Allows enjoyable times yet when it's time to focus, they enforce it. They have earned respect from the students due to in class and out of class relationships. WIll ask for a 1 on 1 conversation if someone is acting up or grades and slipping before going straight to punishment."
"Shows confidence in leadership, lays down the law, has fun with students, listens to their opinions"
"Needs to at least act enthused with the curriculum they're representing. Relate to students (get them to ask why)"
"The teacher that is listened to has more of a 'backbone.' Meaning they give an appearance of authority."
"If students don't think that the teacher has authority (because they show none) then the students won't take them seriously and do what the teacher says."
"Making it fair for the students"
"How creative they make the assignments"
"Their way of speaking if it has authority behind it. The respect the teacher demands from the student. Also, the teacher is way to talk to like a friend, but not so that the students they they can get away with whatever they want."
"Doesn't talk down to students, talks to them"
"Applies topic to situation of life (e.g. how the class could help students in real life"
"They change their lessons up a lot. They have a good balance between fun and being productive."
"Makes learning fun, easy to talk to, listens to students' opinions and takes action with some."
"They don't ramble on and on. They get you involved in that they are saying. They make what they're talking about seem important and aren't boring about it. They have fun with whatever they are talking about."
"They must make a class interesting and make a good atmosphere"
"They will always pull you aside and talk to you, or maybe you know that they will have a consequence if you don't to what you're asked to do."
"Have a connection with the students. Don't rush to teach, make them understand."

What always amazes me about this is that younger teachers frequently try to be friends with students...You read it here, kids want to be friendly, but they want boundaries.

The amazing thing about this experience for me is that I have recently chewed on a few of these students for various reasons. No resentment shows in their writing. They KNOW I care about them and they KNOW I want what is best for them.

I LOVE doing things like this....not because it makes me feel good, because it often doesn't. Sometimes there responses point to something they perceive about ME...but I LOVE to hear how they think. I want to know what they care about.

So, do you want to be a better teacher?? How about asking YOUR students what that looks like to them. Your methods might be validated...or you might find a way to connect. The students will feel like you care.

If you are a high school student reading this....or one of my former students on Facebook, drop a comment in about your thoughts. I will love to read them also!!