- Listening to Hamish Brewer or Monica Genta at a conference is inspirational.
- Be authentic in your relationships with others, especially students, because they will be able to tell when you are not.
- Demonstrate to students that you care.
Recently, I attended a conference where I had the opportunity to observe two amazing presenters, Hamish Brewer and Monica Genta. Let me tell you something, if you have a chance to see them speak, go do it. You will not regret it. Their messages were funny, inspirational, and downright good (can’t think of another word). On one hand, you had Hamish talking about love and dancing without permission. On the other, you had Monica talking about giving out cans of fish as rewards. Overall, they gave me and our staff great ideas for teaching. Then, I had to question myself. Is this me? Can I get away with giving out cans of fish as a prize? Can I go to other students and convey this message? Furthermore, would they believe me?
The quick answer is yes because I feel my teaching philosophy is similar to theirs. However, just imagine one of your hardened veteran teachers giving out cans of beans to students who have been absent. Or imagine being a student getting a can of mackerel for doing something good in a classroom that does not joke around and is serious. Well, if you think this would be awkward, I think you are correct. I am not saying we should not be silly, nor am I saying to change your philosophy (that is probably another blog for another day). However, if this style does not mesh with you, do not force it. If you do, students can see that from a mile away. Students are intelligent, and if you try to be someone else that you are not, they will be able to see right through you.In the end, it does not cost anything to be nice to students. Click To Tweet
Just Be You
I guess my whole message is to be yourself. I can relate to both Hamish and Monica because I feel their style meshes with mine. However, if giving out cans of food does not match your style, don’t do it. As a matter of fact, do not be forced to do it because you know it would not work for you. Just imagine the strictest, meanest teacher that you had. You know, that one teacher that you are not the fondest of. Then imagine them giving you a can of beans because you were absent for a couple of days and said, “you have ‘bean’ missing a long time.” I would not take it so humorously, because I know it felt forced by the teacher.[scroll down to keep reading]
Be You. Care for Students.
Furthermore, the message here is to show students that you care for them. I can think of one of the strictest teachers I had in my days at school. She was harsh, to say the least. However, I remember she would always say hi and greet me late after school when I had soccer practice and she stayed late. At first, I didn’t think anything of it. In fact, I thought it was awkward. However, as I am getting older, I am seeing that the teacher really just cared about how I was doing and worried for my well-being. Note: I still do not appreciate this teacher, as she is probably in the top 5 of teachers I did not like. However, as I get older, I can see the fact that she did care for her students.
In the end, it does not cost anything to be nice to students. You can be the meanest teacher in the school or the strictest, but if you truly care for your students, students can catch on to that. Even when you have those students that really test your patience. It might not seem like it matters at that moment, but it can have an impact on those students later on in life.
About Jason Lim
Jason Lim is a middle school Spanish teacher at Kaneland Harter Middle School. This is Jason’s 13th year teaching Spanish. He graduated from NIU with a Spanish lit degree in 2003 and received his Masters in Curriculum and Instruction from Concordia University in 2013. In his spare time, you can see Jason rooting for the Chicago Bears, Cubs, and Bulls. Besides Chicago teams, Jason is passionate about education and the framework of education. His goal is to be the best person he can be and inspire his students to do the same, whether in the classroom or in the outside world.