One of the most important aspects of our job as teachers is forming meaningful connections with the people around us. Not only does it make teaching more fun, it also increases our effectiveness as teachers. Here are three areas that are the most important in forming meaningful connections as teachers, and for you to feel happier in & out of your classroom!
Know Who YOU Are: Connecting To Self!
In order to really form amazing relationships with students and colleagues, it’s really important to have a firm sense of who you are. Here are some reminders for you to connect deeper with yourself on a daily basis.
- Listen to yourself – Are you complaining? Whining? What do you sound like to others? If you don’t like it, change it.
- Slow down – try not to act as if you are always in a hurry. All kids deserve someone who will have time for them. Show them you have time, even if you feel like you don’t. Make time for yourself as well, you deserve it!
- Get a life – outside your classroom. You don’t assign homework seven days a week, so don’t take work home every night. Do something for you outside of school. You will be happier and your students will benefit from it as well.
- Talk less, listen more, reflect daily – this applies to all aspects of your life.
Spend time with people who are not teachers- it will help you get outside of school talk for a while. Or when you are with your teacher friends outside of school, do not talk about school!
Know Your STUDENTS: Connections To Kids!
This is so important. Take the time to really get to know your students. Think about how they learn, and what they need. So many times as teachers we try to put students in our boxes, mold them to the way we teach. However, we are really there to serve their needs. We need to teach who we are in a way they can understand.
- Create a positive classroom culture – be intentional on how you set up your classroom, what posters you hang up and how you arrange the desks. Make it inviting for the students.
- Open up to your students – and they will open up to you. Share some of your life with them. Tell them stories about things you care about, and they will start to trust you more and open up to you more.
- Encourage dreamers – effective teachers are dream-makers, not dream crushers. Try to encourage your students to dream, think big and be hopeful.
- Ask what they think – kids are used to being TOLD what to do, and they are seldom asked or listened to. They will feel great that you wanted to hear what they have to say, and you will gain some valuable insight on their lives and your classroom.
- Give some time to students everyday – even if it’s a small conversation about what is going on in their lives. Maybe you pick one student a day to learn a new fact. Take down times to really connect with students.
Step 3: Know Your COLLEAGUES: Connections To Each Other!
Really supportive and wonderful colleagues are a true blessing. Even if we are working in a difficult school, if we have a few supportive cheerleaders, it can transform the whole experience. Teaching can be very lonely if we don’t get out and actively try forming meaningful connections with other teachers.
- Help each other – we are all playing for the same team. There is no competition when it comes to making a difference in a kid’s life. Work with each other to support the students.
- Keep an open door – don’t teach in a vacuum. Great teachers learn from each other. Make sure you are networking with other teachers. Try to team teach when possible. Find ways to connect with your peers- either in your school or a professional organization.
- Say “Hi” – this may sound strange, but even just walking down the hallway, make it a point to smile and say hello to everyone you pass. It makes a world of difference if you are smiling and making eye contact, especially early in the morning. It can really make someone’s day.
- Be proactive – make sure you are being proactive in all your relationships at school. Be proactive with planning, communication, problem solving and addressing anything that might be frustrating you.
- Have fun! Yes it’s here again! It’s really important to have fun with your colleagues as well. Laugh often (hopefully not at the expense of students) and be silly together. It’s a great stress reliever and it feels good!