We attended a workshop at the IECA conference inAtlanta on the essential things a student wants out of life. The keynote speaker, Ron Clarke, of the Ron Clark Academy in Atlanta, Georgia, spent a great deal of time explaining why a proper handshake is important. After listening to his presentation, I am even more convinced that parents need to teach their children the proper way to make an introduction: what is a weak handshake, what is a too strong a hand shake, and what is a “just right” handshake. It is also important to consider where you are standing in relationship to the person you are meeting. For example, are you too close and what is too distant—and one needs to practice how to look a person in the eyes? It certainly helps makes a good first impression in any environment in the United States. If you’re interested in watching a clip about the Ron Clark Academy, click here: Ron Clark Academy Video.
Anyway, Mr. Clarke published a book called The Essential 55: An Award-Winning Educator’s Ruels for Discovering the Successful Student in Every Child. I wrote down several of his essential items, such as students want eye contact, they want happy teachers, they want teachers to use a variety of teaching methods. He actually has a lesson on how teachers should work a classroom by moving around.
Ron Clarke motivated me into wanting to share some of my own “essentials” from years of working with students. So, here goes: students come to school wanting to be happy and spend time around people who are happy and energetic. They want their teachers to teach to the top of the clas, not the middle or the bottom of the class. Students like an academic challenge, and if you can peak their interest by hookign the new learning to something they are interested in, most students will retain and use this new knowledge. They really do want their teachers to expect the best from them and to really care about them. It means so much to thse students when a teacher takes a personal interest in them. I watched a teacher the other day interacting witha young man in the hallway. She made a point to tell him how much she liked his new glasses and how proud she was of a good grade he had gotten on a test. You could almsot see him “walking on air” as he headed down the hallway. These same students wan tyou to show them respect, and inr eturn, they want you to expect them to have good manners and to communicate wiht you respectefully. They want to know that you genuinely see their potential.
Students want to feel that they have been treated fairly and that you have taken the time to really listen. They want you to give tests that test what you have taught and they want you to grade the test in a timely manner. Students want you to excuse them if they are having a bad day because they excuse you when you are less than your best or you are not as prepared as you should be for class.
Really, students just want to know that their teachers are people too, just like them.