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How to be Authentic with Your Students

Deonte Bridges  |  July 19, 2021
Relationships are everything. Authenticity is one of the keys to building strong relationships with students, and that’s what can help students be successful.

When it comes to being authentic, remember to be yourself. Students can read directly through you, and being authentic and truly meeting them where they’re at and getting to know them beyond the surface level, including the things they’re passionate about, can make all the difference. Get to know them. Ask questions. Show you care.

Relationships take patience. Some students have experienced so much trauma in their lives, and this can impact how you build relationships with them. I’ve had students struggle with abandonment in at home and at school, so I try my best to be there for them.

When I think about being authentic, I share this quote by Shakespeare with my students: “To thine own self be true.” I want them to embrace their true identities, and I actively advocate for them to do so. I also try my best to model this for my students every day.

We’re all human, but that’s easy to forget. Letting students know that it’s okay to not have a good day can bring attention to this. Celebrate them for showing up when they’re not at 100%, and don’t shy away from telling them when you’re not at 100%. It shows you’re real and you’re human.

I like to think of it as a puzzle. Each puzzle piece contributes to the bigger picture, and the only way that you truly fit into the puzzle is by standing out. By standing out and being your authentic self, it exemplifies that we all have so much to offer. It helps me create a safe space for my students and it extends beyond the four walls of my classroom.

Sometimes I have past students call me up just to catch up and tell me what’s been going on in their lives. That’s where the beauty and the true impact lies beyond the day-to-day interactions like fist bumps and high fives in the hallway. Really being able to be invested in their lives and being a resource for them to use and rely on fuels me as an educator.

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