What do Students Really Want?

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 What Do Students Want and Need?

I recently was visiting with one of my colleagues who did something very powerful.  He asked the students what they wanted from him.  The above picture was one of the responses he received back. It is simple, but very powerful indeed.  Oftentimes as teachers we focus on what the students need to know, and rightly so, but often we neglect to ask them how we can be the most effective.  Let’s look at each of these “needs” one at a time

Don’t Yell at Me

How many times have we been yelled at in our lives?  As a former professional and Division I baseball umpire I can you more times than I would like to admit.  And each time I didn’t like it, in fact if often ended up in an ejection for the person doing the yelling. So are we surprised our students don’t like it?  No.  But I do believe there is difference between raising our voice (sometimes necessary) and yelling at a student, never acceptable.  If we don’t want to be treated that way, then it is probably a no-no for us to treat others that way.

 Understand Me

Stephen Covey in his iconic book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, says we must first seek to understand then seek to be understood.  Each of our students is an unique collection of DNA with different experiences from vastly different worlds.  Throw in the mix they are middle school students with raging hormones and little maturity, is it any wonder that they have a different take on things than do we?  I am not saying we AGREE with our students, but what if we UNDERSTOOD where they were coming from, would that make for better connections?

Make Me Laugh

I love to laugh and science tells us we become more receptive when we laugh.  So why not use a little humor in the classroom.  And I have discovered if I can laugh at myself it goes along way to building relationships with my students.  We don’t have to be Red Skelton (Students would have no idea who this is anyway) or Eddie Murphy (Please no, language, language), but we can have some fun and make our students laugh every now and then.

Know When I’m Having a Bad Day

I think of all the requests from this student this one is the most important.  I can not tell you how many times a student has started acting strange, or disrespectful and caused me to wonder what the heck?  Many times this is from a student from whom I would least likely expect this sort of behavior.  I have learned to ask the student to step outside, politely, and then privately ask, “What is going on, something at home I need to know about?”  And many times I learn of a problem at home, sometimes a death or divorce.  I tell the students, “Well I wouldn’t care about history either if that was going on in my life.  Go to the bathroom and get yourself together and come on back, you get a pass today.”  This goes along way to build credibility with that stufent and others as well.

I think this student is wise beyond their years.  Just my thoughts for the day.  What do you think?  I would love to hear, comment below.  Until next time, peace.

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