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Taking the Teacher Hat Off

Deonte Bridges  |  July 08, 2021
Building relationships with students is essential to their success. They try harder and get more out of your class when there is a strong relationship in place. This is one of the most important parts of being a teacher.

Sometimes building a strong foundation means taking the teacher hat off and meeting students where they’re at. I go to the park to play basketball with my students. Not all teachers do stuff like this, but it helps me connect with my students. They think it’s cool that I show up. It’s a way for me to build on the relationships we have, and we bring it back to the classroom. This shows them I’m being authentic with them, too, which is also really valuable when it comes to building relationships.

My students put a lot of work in when they’re in my class. They are willing to show up and do what they need to do, and I believe it has a lot to do with the relationships we’ve built and the understanding we have. We don’t always show up feeling 100%, but I let them know it’s okay not to have a good day every day. This goes back to being authentic with your students. Check out some of my other thoughts on authenticity in the classroom here.
Sometimes the thing they need most to be successful is for you to just be there for them or listen to them.

Knowing you care about them helps solidify the relationship and makes them feel comfortable, and that’s where learning starts. You can show up for students in a way that allows them to see you as a role model or a mentor. A student once told me in the middle of a lesson that I was like a father figure to him. That moment gave me confirmation that I was doing the right thing. I was making an impact.

I also have students from past years call me up to chat and catch up sometimes. They want to share what’s 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.

We’re here as educators to help students – that’s the goal. But sometimes students deal with difficult things and bring it to school, just like we do. They’re human. We’re all human. At the end of the day, all I truly want to do is inspire my students.

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