TEACHERS DO MAKE A DIFFERENCE
‘Teachers do make a difference-The Teacher’s guide to connecting with the students’ was written by Judith, using exemplars from the six caring teachers after observing them. She collected data on teachers’ behaviour in several different ways. She made quiet observation of each of them for three full days. She interviewed the teachers and also interviewed students of their classes by selecting them at random as well as through informal talks. These teachers were selected from different ethnic background teaching various academic subjects, different classes and with different teaching styles. The common feature of their teaching style is making healthy and positive connections with a class room full of students in just fifty minutes.
The six strategies adopted by the teachers to build close and trusting connections with students without compromising the primary responsibilities of a teacher-academic achievement of students are
Creating one-to-one time with the students
Using appropriate self-disclosure (like their back ground or how they managed studies or family relations etc.)
Having high expectations of students while conveying belief in their capabilities
Networking with parents, family members, friends, and neighbours of students
Building a sense of community among students within the classroom
Utilizing rituals and traditions in the classroom.
All six teachers valued respect and worked for the respect of their students. The six teachers assumed that students were doing the best they could, given their developmental level and life circumstances, and in that respect all students deserved their respect. Students ‘positive responses to respectful treatment document the power of treating students with dignity and respect. Students who were treated respectfully responded respectfully.
The teachers also held in common several personal qualities that enhanced their ability to make and maintain positive, meaningful connections with their students. By increasing their ability to reach their teaching goals, these personal qualities helped them maintain their enthusiasm and professional energy
The common qualities
Genuineness: genuineness is defined as being fully and freely ourselves without overwhelming other individuals. None of the six teachers presented a facade or phoniness that would misrepresent them. They appeared disarmingly unpretentious and unaffected. Genuineness on the teacher’s part promotes like responses in the students and cultivates trust and acceptance.
Tolerance for imperfection: These teachers did not expect themselves to be perfect and quickly acknowledged their mistakes, made verbal amends and moved on to finding solutions. They viewed mistakes as opportunities to learn and welcomed feedback that helped them to improve.
Sense of personal accountability: The caring teachers in the study did not accuse or blame the administration, students or anyone else for the negative events that happened in their professional lives. They assumed responsibility for their reactions to events and were not easily swayed away by the disapproval of others.
Tolerance for ambiguity: The observed teachers understood that not everything was within their control, nor was it clearly defined ,but the reaction to any situation was always under their control. A tolerance for ambiguity helps to reduce stress by increasing our adaptability to variety of situations.
Non-judgemental attitude: These teachers appeared not to hold grudge against students who had misbehaved. Students were disciplined and the teachers continued to show acceptance and positive regard for them.
Sense of humour: These teachers often laughed at themselves. Lessons were presented with humour. Students were motivated with humour; discipline was handled with humour rand classrooms were managed with humour.
Ability to personally detach: These teachers realised that they did not have to be successful all the time. They just did it even if the students chose to reject the teacher’s efforts.