Without a doubt, teaching is an art. A passion for your subject is one important component, but most teachers are also deeply committed to helping their students develop as learners and people. Your support can make a big difference in their lives both in and outside of school. Here are a few tips to make sure your students feel that support every day:
Recognize their distinct needs. Every student is unique and different. Recognize this and meet them wherever they are by adapting your instruction to their needs.
Show interest in them as people. Your students have lots going on in their lives, and while your job is to teach them, a little effort to get to know them as individuals goes a long way toward establishing good rapport.
Keep the door open. This year is unique in that you might not have the opportunity to see your students as often, but that doesn’t mean you can’t establish an open-door policy! Invite your students to reach out any time they have questions or concerns about school.
Set policies and stick to them. Students will appreciate you being fair with all students and following through on what you promise. Be trustworthy. Don’t play favorites. Let students know that they aren’t all the same, but they all have the same opportunities in your classroom.
Acknowledge their progress. The best message you can share with your students is that learning is a process that requires effort and involves making mistakes. Let them know when you see them growing and thank them for persevering through difficult times and topics.
Set goals and revisit them often. Goal setting is a great way to keep students engaged and focused on your classroom goals as well as their own goals. Take time for this important exercise and celebrate when your students reach milestones.
Make your classroom a safe place. Let students know that you want them to share ideas, ask thoughtful questions and take risks. Cultivate a classroom environment of mutual respect and support.
Let them know you’re there for help. This year is difficult, with COVID-19 throwing many students’ lives off course in ways they never envisioned. Acknowledge that things are different and probably difficult for many, and remind students that you are part of their support system—whether they need extra help with school work or a referral to the school mental health team.
Your students need your support this year more than ever! Set high expectations, let them know you care, get excited about their progress and offer them an encouraging learning community. They will benefit from these efforts and appreciate you for them.