We all know that our students talk about us. Sometimes it’s good, sometimes bad. Sometimes it’s cruel or unfair, and sometimes it’s right on the mark.
Some of their words get back to us, but lots more stay in the locker room, hallways, and Facebook pages. To be honest, we really can’t concern ourselves with everything our students say. Too often immaturity and frustration manifest themselves in horrible and destructive comments that in no way truly reflect us or our teaching.
But there are some things we should really be hoping that our students are saying about us. Maybe not everyone, and maybe not all the time. But when a new student finds out they’re having Mr. So-and-so, what is the general consensus? Here’s some things I hope they’re saying about me.
7 Things Our Students Should Be Saying about Us
- S/he’s nice. This may sound super generic, but coming from a student, I take this as a compliment. Our students should view us as kind, friendly, encouraging, and supportive. This doesn’t mean that we don’t discipline, but it means that when we do, we don’t yell at them or demean them. Instead, we speak the truth in love.
- S/he’s tough. If our students are saying we’re nice, they need to be following it with a caveat. “She’s nice, but tough.” We must have high expectations in our classrooms, both academically and behaviorally. They’ll say we’re tough if we set the bar high, don’t put up with nonsense or laziness, and expect their best in everything.
- S/he has things under control. If we are organized, efficient, and deal with issues that arise in our classrooms, our students will say we’ve got things under control. This doesn’t mean we don’t ever forget something or fail to notice a problem, but it does mean that we are typically on top of things. Do your students know that misbehavior doesn’t fly? Do they think you have eyes in the back of your head? They should be getting the impression that our classroom is a well-oiled machine, not an old beater that’s limping its way along. [By the way, if you feel like you’re just making it through each day and do NOT have things under control, you’re not alone. I had a rough first year myself, and there’s always more to learn. If you need some help, check out my book Create Your Dream Classroom or my other posts on classroom management.]
- S/he admits mistakes. If our students aren’t saying this about us, then we are going to have problems. We have to admit our mistakes, whether it’s a simple addition error or a lapse of judgment on our part. Are you able to apologize to a student or even to the whole class if necessary? It’s the difference between turning off our students and gaining their respect.
- S/he makes things easy to understand. No matter how difficult our subject is, we should be making it easy for our students to understand. And this is one time where what the students say is often pretty accurate. If you’re hearing rumors that your lectures are confusing and the students are lost, it’s probably time to rethink something. Great teachers take challenging concepts and make them manageable, and hopefully even simple. If you’re having trouble in this area, find a way to observe great teachers (whether in person or by video online) and ask fellow teachers who excel in this area to observe you and give you ideas for improvement.
- S/he cares. Regardless of our strengths and weaknesses as teachers, this one aspect can make or break us. When our students know that we care about them, everything else seems less important. When they aren’t so sure, problems quickly arise and multiply. So do your students know you care? Notice I didn’t ask if you care. You probably wouldn’t still be reading this if you didn’t. I asked if they know you care. Do you show them? Are you there for them? Do you help them and support them and discipline them in love? They may not fully appreciate you now, but if you’re showing them you care, they’ll look back and pay you this high compliment.
- S/he’s real. If we want to go beyond teaching our subject and truly impact our students’ lives and hearts, we just have to be real. Genuine love, genuine faith, genuine passion – these are the things that will open up our students’ hearts and allow us to see real breakthroughs and real change. So don’t put up a front, and don’t be afraid to be honest. Let your students see the real you, and you will see your impact soar.
Which of these statements resonates most with you? What would you add to the list? Share your thoughts with a comment below.
Photo by Inf-Lite Teacher