F5 (Refresh)…. the connection
“Great teacher focus not on compliance, but on connections and relationships.” – PJ Caposey
The world has changed. And it has changed more in the last 10 months than it did in the last 10 years. But then isn’t change, the most influential law of the nature. We may like it or not, but do we have any choice? The one who accepts and adapts to the new and everchanging scenarios is bound to be more successful than others.
Benazir Shafaat Hussain is an expert in Remedial teaching, Individual education planning, psychological assessments and curriculum development. Before getting into special education, she was working as lecturer of Psychology at Diana Nursing College (Bangalore). Besides having Masters in Clinical Psychology from Bangalore University, she also did Diploma in Family Counseling, specialization in Family Counseling and certification course in Autism Spectrum disorders from UC Davis University. Currently, she is pursuing her research in Autism to study how we can improve the learning experiences in children with Autism. She also worked with Step by Step School, Noida.
And it is more true for the one of the most important relationships of this world – the pupils and their teachers. The change is more evident because schooling has moved out of its traditional classrooms to online platforms where parents are ever present or at least are around the kids while they are attending their classes.
Education beyond classroom
The whole system of schooling has a new perspective in the present scenario. The new normal of online teaching has changed the notion of schooling and has really come out of classrooms and school building. The learner’s community is growing wider and new approaches to learning has evolved. The scenario has changed but what remains least effected is the relationship between a teacher and a student, and this is because the bonding is so deep rooted that classes even being online/virtual cannot dampen such relationships.
However, teachers need to understand the importance of their relationship with each student. This relationship reflects on the pupil’s identity and sense of belonging. An authoritarian approach does not work too long is what I feel personally. It is essential to understand how we behave and react, is what holds in a student’s mind forever. A child who is now attending classes online needs higher motivation. It is challenging to get hold of their attention with all the barriers that are either physical surroundings or their emotional frame of mind. The learning environment has changed for students and not all can accept it for many reasons. A personal connect a teacher could give by being in the same room as the students in school, is missing in virtual classes. Looking at a screen and learning is different from learning sitting within classrooms. The platform has changed but teachers are still the same and can bond with their students with right approach and attitude towards imparting knowledge. Microsoft and Google are just the classrooms, but actual teaching and learning is between the learner and the facilitator.
The adaptability to the learning environment needs to be such, where they feel well-adjusted and happy pupils. And, only a teacher can build this virtue in his/her pupils.
Virtues and values
The relationship between teacher and pupil should be based on values such as trust, honesty, respect, justice and compassion. These values can empower children to live their lives in an active and ethical way. Even in times of Covid, schools should focus on learning which believes in holistic growth. As it will nurture the essence of what it means to be human, whilst giving pupils an outstanding education.
Another very important quality is Empathy, which can help build the relationship between teachers and students. Empathy is a powerful tool that can help you understand what is driving your students’ behaviour and find strategies to help. It connects you well with people around you. Also, it is important to understand that being empathetic does not mean lowering one’s expectations from their students. As a teacher you can validate and have empathy for students, while at the same time holding them to high standards. By being an empathetic teacher, you are acknowledging emotions and feelings. Children are usually gracious demonstrators of empathy. They are aware of feelings of their classmates and teachers and can connect to them very well. A simple approach of empathy by the teacher will mean that the students will be more willing to put themselves in the
shoes of their classmates or the teachers themselves.
Researchers have identified four parts of empathy and by integrating these practices into teaching, the teachers can show students that they understand what the students are going through and that the teachers are not just viewing the students’ issues as questions to be solved or problems to be fixed. Especially in these challenging situation where we are not in direct physical contact of our students anymore due to the Covid times the following is more needed than ever:
Perspective taking: When you take a different perspective, you put aside your own feelings and reactions to see the situation through your student’s eye. As a teacher you should practice as well as teach perspective taking for students in class.
Put aside judgement: It is always easy to jump to conclusions but what matters is that we step back and consider that what more I need to learn and understand about the situation.
Trying to understand the student’s feelings: Listen to your students and connect with them.
Communicate that you understand: Instead of trying to fix situations replace it by using reflective phrases like: It sound like you…. or I hear that you…
It is easy to solve problems by giving suggestions or quick ideas, but this does not work out at a long-term basis. So, let the child try resolve problems on their own with your support and as teachers we need to be facilitators who can guide but let the pupil drive his/her way through.
Researchers have found that teachers who cultivate empathy for and with their students are able to manage students’ behavior and academic engagement better because the students know that they are talking to someone who can relate to them better.
Feeling understood and supported is even more important for students who learn and think differently. For them we need to see that we adapt to the changes more and keep their world intact so that they have one less challenge to address. We should be their warriors in this battle to ensure they win the war of their life.
It helps students stay self-motivated, increases self-awareness and encourages them to advocate for themselves. A child’s academic success and social development is connected to their relationship with their
A child’s most influential relationship is with his/her teacher which remains permanently in memories even when they grow up and it continues all-time. This relationship is that ‘face’ which humans never forget and when they taste success in life and they always owe it to their teachers.
teacher. So, establishing a positive relationship with the teacher helps a student feel more comfortable and safer in their classroom environments, be it virtual or brick and mortar classrooms.
Open communication is a key to maintain a transparent relationship between pupils and teachers. Communication skills are like vibrant rays to understand the different feelings, perceptions and actions taken by a pupil. When a child is comfortable sharing and expressing his/her thoughts to the teacher, it leads to strong relationship between them. This helps the child’s ability to think and act in an open-minded frame of mind. When students have strong connection with teachers, they are positive in their attitude and confident in all aspects of life.
If we, the facilitators, take on the responsibility of ensuring that our students overcome today’s challenges by becoming their partners in this challenging environment then we will do justice to the expectations which each society has from our fraternity. A child’s most influential relationship is with his/her teacher which remains permanently in memories even when they grow up and it continues all-time. This relationship is that ‘face’ which humans never forget and when they taste success in life and they always owe it to their teachers.