As I’m still in the process of recruiting teachers, I started reminiscing about some of the best teachers/professors/lecturers I’ve ever had and who have made a difference in my life. I tried to focus a bit on how they built rapport with their learners. Even though I was fortunate enough so as to have plenty of wonderful teachers (otherwise I don’t think I’d have become one), there’s one professor in particular whom I’d like to talk about here. What makes me think about her is the fact that I met her at university, and I most certainly didn’t expect to find anything but academia people there. Well, this lady certainly proved us all wrong by showing us that it’s possible to bond with your students, earn their respect and trust, and make sure they truly learn what they’re supposed to. Now, I’ve had some people asking me how to build rapport with the students. In the previous post, I mentioned how important that is in my view. But if I had to give someone some practical advice, I’d recommend you do the following:
1. Don’t be afraid to share your own stories with your students. You can’t forget you’re teaching people, not simply a whole bunch of emotionless brains incapable of having a life outside the classroom.
2. Listen to your students. You’re more likely to find out what ticks them if you stop to listen for a while and have a conversation with them.
3. Show your students you care. This doesn’t mean you have to put up with everything they bring to class. You can do this, for example, by telling them they’re doing less than what they can do (and that you’re there by their side to help them).
4. Take the time to get to know your students. You won’t regret it.
5. Worry more about their learning than about your teaching. Sometimes you will have to abandon that wonderful idea you had when planning your lesson to do something you feel your students are going to benefit more from doing. Don’t take it personal. The classroom is a dynamic environment and, as the classroom manager, you’re supposed to learn how to play it by ear from time to time.
Now, Angela Virgolim (the professor’s name) taught us Principles of development and learning, and she really put her words to the test. She kept a personal file on each student, and she actually even took a picture of each one of us – all 40 or 50 of us. Students from all different fields of studies enjoyed going to classes and learning from one another.
One fact in particular comes to mind when I think about the rapport she had with the students. She threw us all a party, at her house, to celebrate the end of the semester. All students went to the party, even those who hadn’t passed. They knew it wasn’t personal. She made it clear she was there to help us fulfil our full potential. A memorable educator, indeed.
What about you? Have your got any anecdote about a teacher who made a difference in your life that you’d like to share?