It’s one thing to say you want to connect with your students. But how does that look in real life? I mostly knew but couldn't explain. That’s why I really like this article. It starts by quoting high school students explaining what a connection looked like for them. Then you’ll find 10 solid tips for doing just that. Some are a bit religious, but the rest are still fantastic.
I remember this one teacher I worked with. She was burned out long before I showed up. She seemed to hate every student, and her kids acted accordingly. Me? I liked them. And they treated me very well. After reading this article at the end of that year, I understood why. I showed my students that I cared about them. Turns out that high school students open up to you when you show concern for their lives. Go figure.
I never taught science, but our school’s physics teacher always had a great rapport with his students. I wasn’t lacking in that, but I had never had his success. At lunch, I’d occasionally ask him about it. One day, he said he found a site that talked about how to build connections with your students. I’m not so sure about every suggestion — using Angry Birds to teach physics seems more pandering than connecting — but the rest were solid.
To be honest, I don’t like hearing teachers complain about “kids these days.” Do they not remember what they were like in high school? In researching ways to connect better with my students, I found this page. Just reading the first tip (“Drop the nostalgia”) sold it for me. Then I realized the rest of the list was great too. It was about focusing on students as people, something we teachers often forget.
Sure, we all want to connect with students. Why wouldn’t we? But what does that actually look like? Instead of research telling me that such connections help leanings (yeah, got that, thanks), I wanted practical ways to do it. Working as a white guy in an all-Hispanic school made that more important. Finally, I found this article with five actual things I could do. Just showing up to a local festival like the article suggested helped me connect better.