Kids don’t care what you know until they know that you care.
I don’t know where that quote came from, but I have found it to be true. It all began before I even became a teacher. My sons aren’t the most studious individuals you will ever meet. Well, okay… it was like pulling teeth to get them to study. Painful abscessed teeth. You get the picture. Anyway, I noticed that there were some teachers they would work harder for than others. What did they do that was different? These teachers went out of their way show students how important they are. Not just by greeting students by name at the door either, these went further than that. These teachers would show up at a sporting event or two. That spoke volumes to me as a parent as well. The ones I remember the most were Ms. Goetz from elementary school, and Ms. Graham from middle school. It didn’t stop there either. These teachers even went to events when the boys were no longer in their class. Word gets around. Parents and students alike knew that these two teachers were/are special. I decided that when I became a teacher, I would do the same thing. I can tell you it is very rewarding.
I had a student who I was having difficulty with. Nothing major… just talking out of turn, not putting forth his best effort, things like that. I got his sports schedule, went to a game, and the very next day I saw a big difference in his attitude in class. I’m not implying that he was perfect, none of us are. But the difference was significant enough that I saw improved performance in class. He even became a ‘hugger’.
I try to make it a point to get to one event for each student at some point throughout the year. Going out to recess with your class about once a month gives you a chance to spend extra time with the students who don’t have extracurricular activities.
I know that it is easier for some of us to get to games than others. So I have some pointers to make it easier. First of all, never take a student at his/her word about when and where a game is. They frequently aren’t very clear on the details. Trust me on this one. Get a schedule from the parent. Next, write the games & times on a special calendar. You will find that several students in your class are often on the same team. Then you can get in several games at once! You will also find that some games times back up to each other. That is also a great time saver. If you’re really strapped for time, you could spend 30 minutes at one game and 30 minutes at the other. It honestly doesn’t take much time in the long run. The benefits you see in class are well worth it. Finally, pace yourself. Don’t feel like to have to fit in a game for every student in the first semester. Remember, you’ve got the whole year!
Middle and High School teachers would have a more difficult time because they have so many students. What I saw when my boys were in those grades were teachers who would make it to one football game, one basketball, one soccer, etc. Students who aren’t even on the team will notice you there, and know you care.
My favorite part is seeing the kids faces light up when they see me. I’ve even had several parents tear up in gratitude. Little things mean A LOT!
Don’t fret if you have a busy family life and simply have no extra time at all. There is always that wonderful time of day called recess (for elementary anyway). Go out just once a month. Play four-square, or walk around the playground for exercise. My favorite is ‘duck, duck, goose’! The point is that the students see you spending time with them when you don’t HAVE to be with them. Actions speak louder than words.
I’ve followed the example of those inspirational teachers and even go to games of former students. I love it! Thank you Ms. Goetz and Ms. Graham for the great examples you set. Try following the example yourself, you will find the rewards are well worth the effort.
I'm sure there are some other great ways to go that extra mile. What do you do outside of class to show kids you care?