The article “20 Minutes to Change a Life?” resonated very well with me. Ben Levin reviews three cases in which teachers decided to spend a little extra time to develop a personal connection with their disruptive students, and the results were very positive. Each student’s behavior noticeably improved.
Based on my own experience, there is definitely truth to this article. I once had a student in a Grade 9 Applied English class who was not handing a summative assignment, and I felt as though I was constantly nagging him to complete it. I knew that he had been troublesome with other teachers as well, and he was often suspended or absent. One day, I offered to stay during lunch hour to help him individually, and he showed up, much to my surprise. I used the opportunity to get to know him personally, talking about his life, and offering him advice. He handed in his assignment the following day, and attended class every day until I left. I feel as though he developed respect for me and trusted that I cared about his education and his commitment level.
I feel as though this technique should not be limited to “at-risk” or disruptive students, however, and the article failed to address this. In fact, I have experience on the student side of things too! I once sent an email to a professor, explaining that I may be late because I had to sign up for a sign language course that morning. She responded saying she was impressed I was taking sign language, and asked me if I planned to use it in the future. After the fact, I felt I was working harder in her classes, and I had gained a deeper respect for her.
Developing personal connections with students is my favorite part about teaching. For me, it is the most rewarding part about teaching, and I really feel that the teacher can learn just as much from their students as their students can learn from them.