When you see an administrator poke her head in your classroom, do you catch yourself standing a little taller, your voice starts to sound like a radio announcer for a classical music station, and your gestures become more animated? If you aren’t working with a group of kids already, you quickly walk over to a student group, nodding your head furiously just to show you are coaching the heck out of that cooperative group. Yes, we know we do this because we want our administrators to recognize how darn lucky they are to have us on staff.
With the mountain of teacher evaluation requirements, we have a pretty good idea of what administrators need to see, but recently I had an opportunity to ask prospective vice principals what they really believed made a great teacher. Their answers were similar. They want teachers who use data to drive teaching decisions, know content, and are technology savvy (or are at least willing to learn). The number one quality they looked for in a good teacher was a teacher adept at building relationships with his or her students. Their message was loud and clear; if a teacher doesn’t care about his students, he’s toast.
Building relationships with your students can be the most gratifying part of your job. These are just a few of the strategies I’ve used to show my students that I care:
● Learn your students’ names early.
● Smile when they enter your classroom (even on days when you don’t feel like it). Make it clear you are glad they are in your classroom.
● Be sure to touch base with them as they are working. Checking in with students and asking them guiding questions when they are struggling is a powerful way to show you care.
● The Two-by-Ten approach works well with students who present you with a challenge. I have been using this successful technique for years. One of my teammates used this approach with a student who had trust issues with teachers. It is supposed to work after ten attempts; it didn’t. My determined co-worker decided to forge ahead, and on the twelfth try this student started to converse with her. Eventually he sought her out for discussions. How cool is that?
The famous school poster quote, “Your students don’t care how much you know until you show how much you care.” – anonymous, is to be your guide if you truly wish to be the kind of teacher an administrator would be proud to have on staff – more importantly – the kind of teacher you wish to be, even if a principal isn’t peeking in on you.