Sunday, September 21, 2014

Reflective Teacher Day 21: My hobbies and interests....

     One of the best ways to build good relationships with your students is to open up a little to them by showing them that you are actually a person! Haha. I know that sounds silly but I think if you are genuine with your students, showing them that learning isn't a "me vs you"  mentality. There are so many points throughout the day during those "in-between" times that present themselves at different points during the year. While there is no exact recipe for how to build relationships with students, here is what I do to incorporate my hobbies/interests into the classroom:

     Every morning you can hear music emanating out of C-210 at MHS. Yea it's me. I need a little extra boost in the AM (6:30 am is waaaay too early) as the caffeine is starting to kick in. I have a wide variety of musical interests from classical to punk music. I think some students appreciate it and I have had many a conversation with students about bands and what music they like too. I have even had students ask if I could play music while they are working on something in class. To avoid any arguments, I usually pick something that has no lyrics like Ratatat, Fatboy Slim, or Blue Man Group. They may complain, but I know they are into it when you walk around and see students tapping their feet or pencil. I also believe that lyrics are too distracting and if you play the music low enough it is not overpowering them when they are trying to concentrate.
     I am constantly quoting movies in class where it fits. Not all the students "get it" but those that due usually get a little chuckle out of it. The quotes always (okay usually!) fit with what we are doing, so for me it's a win-win. Relationship building with humor. Sprinkle in a little bit of content and you have a great way to interact with students. A few years ago, some of my AP American Government students were curious about the movies I kept quoting in class. They wanted me to make a movie list of ones I would recommend to watch or that I quote. (I watch a lot of movies so it was an ever expanding list) If I can find where I have it saved, maybe I will post it here.
      I have many hobbies like reading, video games, soccer, and fishing that I have used in discussions with students in a multitude of ways. It is amazing the way a student's demeanor changes when they realize you have something in common. I know that sounds silly, but anything you can do to show the students you are not the enemy to their learning, the easier it will be to push them or help them when that is needed. I also think that since I have a wide array of things I do when not in school, that it's easier not to exclude anyone in my class. If I was only interested in sports let's say, there are students who are not athletic. So would students perceive that I would treat the athletic students differently (ie better) if that is all I talked about? Remember, perception can be reality if you do not open up to all of your students you could be in for a long year. 
     If I could give one piece of advice to new teachers it would be this: if you put yourself into your teaching and allow students to see you how you want to see them, as a person, then much of the other academic stuff will be easier to accomplish when students can relate to you.


  1. Great post! I wholeheartedly agree. When you show your human side, they feel like they have a better relationship and are usually willing to do more for you in the classroom. I don't usually have many students who refuse to do work or miss assignments. I think they're afraid to disappoint me. Building a good rapport with your students is one of the keys to everyone's success.

  2. Yea it's amazing what the human touch can do! Thanks for the feedback!!