Get to Know Your Students Because They Are People Too

Teachers play a vital role in the lives of their students. They are responsible for not only teaching them academic subjects, but also for helping them to develop into well-rounded individuals. However, the classroom is only one part of a student's life. Teachers are painfully unaware of the lives that students have outside of the classroom. 

Teachers are busy. They spend everyday overseeing curriculum, managing the classroom, attending meetings, grading, and catching up on all of the things they weren't able to do the day before. But not getting to know your students on a personal level is a problem. When students feel like they are known and respected by their teachers, they are more likely to feel comfortable taking risks and participating in class. Knowing your students on a personal level is a simple step that leads to more student engagement and a better classroom environment. 

Here are some ways that teachers can be involved in their students' lives outside of the classroom:

  • Get to know your students' families. One of the best ways to get to know your students is to get to know their families. Parent-teacher conferences are required! Conferences are a perfect gateway into the family life. Make a point of staying in contact with your students' families. Sending a weekly or bi-weekly email to update parents and guardians on what is going on in the classroom shows them that you care about their involvement. When you get to know your students' families, you can better understand the challenges they face. This will help you to better support your students in the classroom and outside of it.

  • Become involved in your students' extracurricular activities. Extracurricular activities are a great way for students to develop their interests and talents outside of the classroom. They can also provide students with opportunities to make friends and build relationships. By becoming involved in your students' extracurricular activities, you can show your support for their interests and help them to develop their social skills. Many of your students play sports, are in clubs, in band, or do some other extracurricular activity. Make a point of stopping by one of these events to go an see your students. A little bit of time goes a long way. 

  • Offer guidance and support. Students often face challenges both inside and outside of the classroom. As a teacher, you can offer guidance and support to help them overcome these challenges. This can be done by listening to students, offering advice, and connecting them with resources in the community. Let your students know that you are an available resource. Be willing to meet with students outside of classroom if they event need to discuss issues unrelated to classroom material. When students know that they can turn to you for help, they are more likely to succeed in school and in life.

  • Be a role model. Students look up to their teachers. As a teacher, you have the opportunity to be a role model for your students. This means setting a good example for them in terms of behavior, attitude, and academic achievement. A great way to do this is to start a club or other extracurricular activity. This gives your students the opportunity to learn and grow outside of the classroom. Students will love to know that something that interests them also interests you. When students see you as a role model, they are more likely to follow your lead and to strive to be their best.

Being involved in your students' lives both inside and outside the classroom is key to building a good relationship with your students. In Hacking Classroom ManagementMike Roberts describes how knowing your students on a personal level has several benefits in the classroom. Read through his 10 classroom management hacks today. 

Overcoming Pushback 

The thoughts in your heads are already forming excuses why some of these aren't possible. The largest form of pushback to getting to know students outside of the classroom is that teachers don't have time. Attending a game, a play, or a concert takes a lot of time out of the day especially after a full day of teaching. The good news is you don't have to stay the entire time. Make a point of showing up and seeing your students. If staying the entire time does not fit into your schedule that is okay as well. This opens up discussions with your students for the next day in class. Ask your students how the game turned out or what their favorite piece of the night was from the band concert. Just showing your students that you took some time to show interest in their lives goes a long way. 

Many teachers say, "But I am their teacher, not their friend." That is true, but it is still important to be supportive of your students in as many ways as possible. Being apart of an extracurricular activity allows you to interact with your students in a friendly and professional way. You can still be interested in your students' family lives while still being professional. Knowing what goes on at home is an important way to show students you care about them and helps you understand why students act they way they do in class. Being a resource for a student does not necessarily mean being a friend. It is still your responsibility as a teacher to contact counselors, principals, or family if necessary. 

Portions of this article were excerpted from Hacking Classroom Management.

By being involved in your students' lives outside of the classroom, you can make a real difference in their lives. You can help them to succeed in school, to develop into well-rounded individuals, and to reach their full potential. 

Main post image by Gustavo Fring via Pexels

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