Cornerstone in a student’s social maturation process

Teachers are expected to be multi-taskers – researchers – continuously updating their knowledge with the latest developments; they are caretakers, facilitators, psychologists understanding their students, parenting, event managers etc. It is essential that teachers have a positive relationship with their students.

–Gayatri Kasera

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There are several factors which affect a student teacher’s relationship. Biggest issue that affects teacher-student relationships is the student’s result. And this discord keeps widening with the high expectations of the parents, teachers and school management, if there is no improvement in the result. Everyone is so busy focusing on the result, that nobody has time for the source of the result. Learning is a product of not only formal schooling, but also of families, communities, and peers, social, economic, and cultural forces affect learning and thus school achievement.

There are several possible factors affecting the student’s result:

Gayatri Kasera is currently working as Asst. Vice Principal at Academic World School, Bematara, Raipur. She has been working in the field of education for more than two decades. As a trainer, trained around 1000 teachers in various schools of India.A post graduate in English Literature, BEd and MBA (HR), she is also a certified career development facilitator.

• Naturally acquired level of intelligence which varies from person to person.

• Both home and school environments have a big influence on the performance of children especially at the primary school level.

• Poverty levels, parents’ level of income, parents’ level of education, household’s chores and child labour and family structure and stability.

• Pre-existing human capital which includes their unique way of interacting with each type of education institution such as school, family, community, peer group, the economy and the culture.

Individual characteristics such as attitude and perceptions towards school environment, involvement in class activity and the level of motivation have also been found to have a paramount impact on academic achievement.

This shows amalgamation of different factors on a child’s academic performance that need to be taken care of by all the stakeholders for good academic achievement.

The emotional connect…

The base of all relationships is emotional connection between two people. An emotional connection is a feeling of alignment and intimacy between two people having fun together, surface-level conversations, sharing thoughts and ideas. This type of connection imbues the relationship with emotional texture, adding an essential feeling of security that establishes a foundation for genuine intimacy to blossom. When the student feels unsafe to let down our guard, the bond between the teacher and the student can be superficial at best. “As humans, the need for emotional connection is wired into our survival,” adds licensed psychologist Justine Grosso, Psy.D. “It helps us feel a greater sense of belonging, which facilitates general well-being.”

What impact does a positive relationship have on a student?

One day, Aahana, a tenth-grade student, came to school wearing a civil dress on birthday, even though she knew that our school’s rules do not allow students to dress in civil clothes on birthdays. While it seemed like a simple issue to reconcile, I soon found another teacher knocking on my door that morning, asking me to tell her to call up her parents and ask them to bring her school uniform and change. He said he didn’t feel comfortable handling the situation but knew I could persuade Aahana to follow the rules because she trusted me.

That day, I took Aahana aside, and we had a private conversation about why she was not allowed to wear a civil dress on birthdays at school. I assured her that I understood why she wanted to wear a civil dress. After our conversation, Aahana calmly went to the reception and called up her parents to bring her school uniform which she changed without any fuss. This seemingly small encounter reminded me of the power of positive

relationships in schools and why teachers must be intentional about building them. In the classroom, positive relationships are the foundation for learning success. Yet as teachers, we sometimes neglect to take the time to learn about our students as people, which can create barriers to learning and make even small interactions (or conflicts) challenging to handle.

Aahana wasn’t a perfect student, and English didn’t come easy for her, but she worked hard in my class. She asked questions. She even came in before and after class for additional help or just to talk about her social life. She trusted me because I worked hard to build a relationship with her by showing that I respected her and cared for her well-being.

Making students comfortable…

Establishing a positive relationship with their teacher helps a student feel more comfortable and safe in their classroom environments. As a result, students are more likely to participate actively in class and challenge themselves academically. Cultivating a positive rapport with a non-parental authority figure allows students to define themselves, adapt to their environment and grow their emotional and social intelligence.
In the early years of my career I used to be very strict being brought up in a strict environment. That was the only way I had learnt to manage discipline from my schooling and parents. I focused more on my hard skills i.e. teaching with sincerity, gaining more and more knowledge to meet challenging students in the class. I was successful imparting knowledge but somewhere I felt that students fared better in the subjects which were taught by very easy going teachers.

Students did not share their thoughts and ideas easily with me, I used to feel uncomfortable not being able to connect with my students which affected my results also. Here, I would like to mention that a teacher’s upbringing, schooling, background and a teacher’s attitude to adapt, matters a lot in dealing with the students. I tried to look into myself and realized that I hardly spoke to the students beyond academics. Maintaining a line of decorum, slowly and gradually I tried speaking with the students, during their free time on the topics away from academics such as their hobbies, family etc. This was the turning point of my career, which not only improved my result but also resolved many classroom management issues.

What did I learn?

• Relationship and rapport with the students is built beyond the classrooms. Give time to each student of yours, my experience says it is possible. A good result of a student, especially in school, largely depends on

Relationship and rapport with the students is built beyond the classrooms. Give time to each student of yours, my experience says it is possible. A good result of a student, especially in school, largely depends on understanding and rapport between a student and a teacher. Deal one on one with the students, there is no one size fit all solution.

understanding and rapport between a student and a teacher. Deal one on one with the students, there is no one size fit all solution.
• Actually, teaching is more reaching out to the students than just imparting knowledge. A student’s like and dislike for the subject largely depends on his primary year teachers. Usually, when the students don’t like a teacher, they cannot leave the class or show open defiance but they block their minds. The feeling of happiness and ease with the teacher enables learning. A plant can only be nurtured with appropriate amounts of warmth, sunlight and good quality of soil. Teacher is the soil where the seed of knowledge germinates with love and care.
• The teacher can only work on the weak areas of a student when s/he understands his/her pupil well.

Compassion, respect for each other and care mainly resolves behavioral and academic issues in the class.
• Praise the student in front of everyone, but discuss the student’s shortcomings in private.

Steps to build good relationships:

A. Designing differentiated lesson plans catering to all types of students: The Lesson plans must be designed keeping in view mainly four learning styles- Visual, Auditory Reading/Writing and Kinesthetic.
For example-
1.When you want students to draft summary of the story, give them options:

• They can summarise it in the form of a comic strip.
• They can create an audio or video clip.
• They can draw a story mind map.
• They can just discuss in groups and write the summary.

2. Creating task cards
Task cards are an effective way of engaging the students. They feel happy and motivated when they choose the card of their choice and plan to work either individually or in group. After they complete the task mentioned on one card they can choose another.

Topic: Life cycle of Butterfly
Side Dishes (All questions are compulsory) Main dishes (choose any one task out of the two) Desserts (Optional Questions-Critical Thinking)
Answer the questions about Butterfly’s Life Cycle.
• Discuss your answers with your partner. • A
1. Watch the video clip on the life cycle of a Butterfly.
2. Read the story about the life cycle of Butterfly
•B
1. Write a Picture Book showing the Life Cycle of a Butterfly or any other insect.
2. Draw a Poster showing the life cycle of a Butterfly or another insect.
3. Draw a comic strip showing the life cycle of a Butterfly or another insect. • Do the Webquest on the life cycle of insects in the forests.
• Play the online game comparing the life cycle of animals and insects.

 

The feeling of happiness and ease with the teacher enables learning. A plant can only be nurtured with appropriate amounts of warmth, sunlight and good quality of soil. Teacher is the soil where the seed of knowledge germinates with love and care.

The above mentioned examples cater to all learning styles and keep students engaged and motivated. Give them freedom of completing the task in their own way. This type of lesson plan will reduce mental stress of students and build a healthy relationship and environment.

Visual Learners: Students internalize and synthesize information when it is presented to them in a graphic depiction of meaningful symbols and tend to see positive educational outcomes when they are presented with summarizing charts and diagrams rather than sequential slides of information.

Auditory Learners: Auditory (or aural) learners are most successful when they are given the opportunity to hear information presented to them vocally when they are asked to discuss course materials vocally with their classmates, and they may benefit from reading their written work aloud to themselves to help them think it through. These students with this learning style may sometimes opt not to take notes during class in order to maintain their unbroken auditory attention; educators can erroneously conclude that they are less engaged than their classmates.

However, these students may simply have decided that note-taking is a distraction and that their unbroken attention is a more valuable way for them to learn.

Reading/Writing Learners: Students who work best in the reading/writing modality demonstrate a strong learning preference for the written words. Such students should be encouraged to take copious notes during classroom lectures to help them both process information and have an easier time recalling it later. This includes both written information presented in class in the form of handouts and PowerPoint slide presentations as well as the opportunity to synthesize course content in the completion of written assignments.

Kinesthetic Learners: Kinesthetic learners are hands-on, participatory learners who need to take a physically active role in the learning process in order to achieve their best educational outcomes. Because of their active nature, kinesthetic learners often have the most difficult time succeeding in conventional classroom settings. Some educators have found success encouraging kinesthetic learners to utilize flashcards for subjects like Maths and English to make rote memorization into an interactive experience. These students also often thrive in scientific subjects with lab components, as the skills-based, instructional training that occurs in these settings engages them in productive ways.

The teachers should assess their students’ learning styles as soon as possible to help them develop their different intelligence factors in a way which is conducive to their individual learning styles. When these important aspects are understood and acted upon, teaching strategies become more useful and effective and learning becomes more enjoyable for students who struggle in traditional classrooms. Once the students feel comfortable in studying in their style, they develop their inherent intelligence. Actually, catering to learning styles is the Input which the teacher prepares for the class and Multiple Intelligence is the output. Multiple Intelligence is divided into eight (maybe more) capacities, ‘bio psychological potential’ as Howard Gardner describes it and has so far named: linguistic, logical-mathematical, spatial, bodily-kinesthetic, musical, interpersonal, intrapersonal and naturalist intelligence

B. Providing specific feedback: It is very imperative to provide accurate and specific feedback. Incomplete and vague feedback like not up to the mark, incomplete, average etc. does not provide clear feedback for improvement in a given area and the students keep committing those mistakes and they keep getting the same remark over and over again. Mention in clear statements what exactly is the mistake or what is done superbly well.

For example the student scores half mark out of two marks in a given answer. Clearly mention
• One value point missing, spelling errors.
• Write in Past Tense Verb form.
• Practice connectors.
• Practice tables.
• The setting is effectively used.
• Similes, Hyperboles used, enhanced the quality and humour of your story.

C. Listening to the students: Listen to your students without any prejudice or preconceived notions. Just lend them your ear even if you sometimes feel that bogged down with the workload. When you listen to them the channels of free communications are open and an understanding between the teacher and the student develops.

D. Target task not limits of time: All the tasks assigned to the students are time bound. Some students are able to complete while some are not and then they are kept in the defaulters list. Give a little extra time to these students and get the work done. The focus should be on completion of task, not time. Otherwise, these students will always be underperformers and will never be able to come up to the level of other students. A little extra time changes a student’s performance.

E. Regular communication with parents: Parents should be informed about the progress of the student. Timely information enables the parents to take corrective measures.

F. Re-teaching: Re-teaching a concept before any assessment is helpful. The students are able to recall the concepts taught and seek solutions to their problems which improves results.

G. Be flexible, resilient and adaptable: No matter how many books you read or number of training sessions you attend, you will still find students who are completely different from the ones you have known till now. A teacher’s job is to understand her pupils and adjust the sails accordingly. Sails adjusted in the right direction will take the ship of student’s life in the right direction.

H. Motivate and build confidence: As an Assembly and event coordinator, I had made it mandatory to provide a chance to each student of the class to perform on the stage and restricted participation in Inter-House Events to two events only. This gave a chance to more students to participate otherwise teachers take fixed number of students only. I got unbelievable results. It was a treat to see the students mature emotionally, overcoming their fears and performing on stage. We could explore the hidden talent in students and build confidence amongst them. This confidence boosted their morale and improved their academic performance.

There various ways of motivating the students:
i) Give them customized appreciation cards or remarks.
ii) Praise them in public.
iii) Make them feel important by assigning some task to perform.

I. Control your anger and ego: No doubt, sometimes there are situations which are beyond one’s control losing patience is very natural. Here comes the role of emotional intelligence, and every teacher needs to learn this art in their own ways. Sometimes avoiding the student for some time or leaving that spot works.
All students deserve to have adults in their schools who care about them enough to be intentional about building positive relationships that give them the space to make mistakes and learn. If we truly expect our students to

A teacher’s job is to understand her pupils and adjust the sails accordingly. Sails adjusted in the right direction will take the ship of student’s life in the right direction.

learn with us, they need to know that we care about them. They also need opportunities to learn about each other, so that they can build a community in which they grow together as learners.

Think like an adult, what drives your emotions; what motivates you, what upsets you. How would you feel when someone humiliates you in public? The same applies to students. If the teachers find that the above mentioned strategies are difficult, they can just try, not to hurt or humiliate the students. These actions will pave the way to the students’ hearts and minds.