Posted in Learning, Schools, Teaching

Musing on student-teacher relationships

I was one of those kids at school who teachers didn’t like very much. I’m not sure what it was, but I never endeared myself to my teachers.

Some of them hit me, some of them kicked me, some of them made me stand behind the classroom door, or sit under their desk, or leave the room. I can’t remember many of them being terribly nice to me.

I was a middling student who probably had a smarter mouth than brain and said more than I should have. I was clever, but not clever enough to keep my mouth shut or stop my eyes from rolling.

Being a middling student meant I didn’t have the educational needs some students had. I wasn’t gifted and so didn’t get any attention for being particularly good at anything; and I didn’t need remedial attention because I wasn’t really bad at anything. I didn’t have much potential for anything outstanding and so didn’t need encouragement or prompting … and let’s face it, if I was ‘prompted’ I would probably have said something that saw me sent behind the door or under a desk in no time flat.

I come from a family of middling students. None of us excelled academically. We did alright, but our place was firmly in the middle. We weren’t duxes, we didn’t win presitgious academic awards, we didn’t have ATAR scores in the 90s.

I was awarded a merit certificate in primary school one year.

It was for ‘uniform’. I felt it should have been awarded to my mother.

I don’t remember ever having positive relationships with my teachers though, although there was one female teacher in Grade 5 who was lovely.

These days, in teacher preparation programs all across the country (possibly all across the Western world), beginning teachers are taught that “strong teacher relationships are crucial because they:

  • Shape the way children think and act in school
  • Improve how well they do at school

When you have a good relationship with your students, they are more likely to feel positive about class and about school in general. They are also more willing to have a go at hard work, to risk making mistakes, and to ask for help when they need it” (Killian).

Holding high standards without providing a warm environment is merely harsh. A warm environment without high standards lacks backbone. But if you can create a combination of high standards with a warm and supportive environment it will benefit all students, not just the high achievers.

Lee Jussim

I wrote some time ago about punitive education and some of the lessons we learn from school and from the teachers who inhabit it/control it.

What might students learn from teachers who care about them (and let them know they care) and who have high expectations of them?

Why might we teach in any other way?


Author:

I like to travel and take photographs. I like to blog about both.

Your comment is most welcome.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s