Three Questions Every Teacher Should Answer for Their Students

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Now that Labor Day has passed, many Indiana students have been in school for about a month and the honeymoon stage of the new school year is over. Students are settling into their schools and teachers know their students pretty well. The excitement of the new school year is over and now the work has truly begun. As teachers begin to hit their stride, they must remember three questions they should be ready to answer for their students at moment’s notice.

Question 1: Can I trust you?

Most of what teaching is about is trust. Can students trust the teacher? Can students trust the teacher will have their best interests in mind? The teacher must be able to demonstrate to their students they are trustworthy. Teachers, if you want to earn your students' trust remember these three things: be real, be available, be there. Being real is essential because they will see right through the phony and the fake. If you cannot be real then honestly I do not know if education is for you. Being available is about being there if your students need to talk to you. Even if it is during class or immediately after school, you must create time for them. Finally, be there. As a teacher your students want to know that you will be at their debate match, or their basketball game, or if someone in their family passes away, you need to be there at the funeral. Your students notice the times when you are there for them.

Question 2: Do you care about me?

A good teacher is a teacher who cares. Students value trust and they also value a teacher who cares. Plenty of research that suggests a relationship between student and teacher that is caring will foster higher academic achievement. If you want to prove you care about your students follow these three steps: know their lives, listen to them, and get their feedback. If you know your students come from a different background than you, then it is imperative you understand that background. A student’s home life and upbringing can shed plenty of light on unanswered questions in regards to their learning. Visit their neighborhood to see where your students spend their time to gain a deeper appreciation for them. It is important to actively listen to your students. Actively listening allows you to better understand the meaning behind exactly what your students are asking. Also, be sure to check that you fully understand what they are saying. Finally, ask for their feedback. When a teacher asks for a student’s feedback this signals to the student the teacher cares about what they have to say. When you consider their feedback, the teacher is showing their students they are a part of the process and they feel comfortable to ask questions and give feedback throughout the year.

Question 3: Do you believe?

Trust and care are vital to the relationship between teacher and student; however, there is nothing more valuable than the teacher’s belief. As a teacher, you must be able to honestly and truly believe your students can succeed regardless of home life or background. This is one of the most important attributes of any teacher. A simple way to show your students you believe in them is to say, “I believe in you.” It goes a long way.

 

 

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David McGuire

Mr. McGuire is a middle school teacher in Indianapolis, Teach Plus Policy Fellow, and currently enrolled in a doctoral program at Indiana State University for Educational Leadership. Driven by the lack of having an African American male teacher in his classrooms growing up, David helped launched the Educate ME Foundation, which is geared towards increasing the number of African American male teachers in the classroom. A born and raised Hoosier, he is dedicated to improving educational outcomes for all students in Indianapolis. He describes his educational beliefs as a reformer grounded in the best practices of traditional public schools, where he was mentored by strong leaders. David graduated from Central State University with a degree in English and also holds an MBA from Indiana Wesleyan University.