I’ve been a homeroom teacher for almost two years now. I’d be lying if I said that it’s been an easy ride all the time; at times I felt excited but there were times when I didn’t feel very optimistic. In this post, I’d like to share some of the insights I’ve learned while working with my 15-year-old students.
Never talk about your class with/in other classes. Even the most innocent remark can be twisted into a poisonous lie – often quite inadvertently.
Social media are great but when discussing stuff with your class, I strongly recommend that you see your students face to face. The thing is that Facebook discussions, for example, can easily turn into a stream of misunderstandings. Your comment may be misunderstood just because somebody reads it out of context. On the other hand, it’s tempting to conclude that a student’s post is rude, but the fact is that nowadays, kids communicate in a very straightforward way. They spend too much time in the fast (and sometimes harsh) online environment. So you can’t blame them if they sometimes skip niceties.
When talking to your students individually, be careful what you say. If you think that students can keep secrets from one another, you may end up bitterly disappointed. Don’t you ever utter something along these lines: ‘Come on! I know you are a very nice boy. It’s a pity that you best friend, John, is so rude.’ The next day, you will desperately rack your brains to find out why John stares at you even more hatefully than usual.
Students undoubtedly need a lot of freedom. On the other hand, they should know you keep an eye on them
all most of the time. If you disagree, read Lord of the Flies. I think the best way to get to know your students is on school trips. I was pleased to see how responsible my students were when we traveled somewhere together.
Remember that the worst troublemakers can help you a lot in terms of understanding your class dynamic. Believe it or not, they are a great source of wisdom. Why? Cause they are not afraid to tell you the truth face to face.
When assessing your students or criticizing their behavior, weigh each word you say. You may think you are just giving constructive feedback, but your students can take it as harsh criticism. Each and every student is different and it’s difficult to take your words back once they’ve been uttered.
Regardless of the fact that we teachers clearly want to think of our students as individuals, we should remember that when they are together, they are a pack of wolves, who tend to stand by one another if necessary. And I guess it’s absolutely fine and healthy in this stage of development. So keep in mind that the peer’s opinion will always be more important than what the teacher thinks and says. They may not show it directly and openly (some may even appear on your side), but once you’re gone, they will call you names if others do so too – no matter how much they actually like you.
Also, remember that those who ‘betray’ their peers by grassing on them, will sooner or later turn their backs on you too. Thus, respect honesty and genuineness. Appreciate those who tell you the truth face to face no matter how painful it is. However, cherish those who are mature enough to be honest without hurting anybody’s feelings.
Admire those who can admit they were wrong or erred, especially those who come to you voluntarily to tell you so.
Parents can be the most valuable allies. However, those who don’t acknowledge the fact that you are there to help their kids will turn your life to hell. You must show explicitly that you are on their side. If they don’t want to see it, stop wasting your energy proving it.
It’s not easy to love your class unconditionally if a spanner gets into the works. Sometimes you may even think that god is punishing you for your past sins by having sent you this wild pack of wolves. But if you learn how to live with them, you may well survive ….. 🙂