Step 0: Know and Love Your Kids

Last week I guest taught a 6th grade math lesson and it was hella fun for both the students and myself. Additionally, my students actually learned a lot and have a more in depth understanding of equivalent ratios.

The key to my students learning?: Our relationship.

But how can you have a relationship in the span of a 45 minute lesson? The simple answer is start small.

  1. Make connections: When I learned a particular student's name was shared with a professional athlete, I asked him if he was a better player than the famous dude. Instant smile and instant connection.
  2. Take the blame: When you make a mistake ask all of the students to point to you and say "who's fault was that?  Mine! My bad - let me fix it." Take responsibility and let students know that your part of the community and when you mess up - you'll make it right.
  3. Make a corny joke and acknowledge that's it corny. Thank the one or two kids that laughed, then say you're still stuck making 4th grade jokes. Ask them to forgive you. This humanizes you and makes you approachable.
  4. Learn their names: If you need them to have them use name tents, but never for more than two days. If you're bad with names, study.
  5. Connect: Find something genuine to complement students on and deliver these compliments one-on-one. When you're checking student work or checking in on group work thank a student for raising their hand, ask a student where they got their shoes or give a student who has been a point a fist pound. Show them that you're noticing them.

These five ways are great ways to start building relationships. Ask students for feedback regularly and adjust where necessary. Kids want to be noticed and appreciated. Know your content, but also, know and love your kids.