From the sidelines, teaching seems like a very easy and straightforward task. However, only those who have not been in a teaching role believe in this myth. In fact, it is an arduous job, requiring the candidate to be a parent, psychiatrist and educator at the same time.
To be an effective teacher, it is not enough to have lessons planned out, share key notes with the class and tell them what to do for homework. It takes a conscious effort to try to understand their mood by constantly evaluating and observing their reactions throughout class time.
Assuming that you are not doing an one-on-one teaching, you will have to deal with other students in better, more cooperative, mood, who may find the disrupting student a hindrance to their learning. In this sense, the teacher is also a diplomat who needs to negotiate terms between the students from different backgrounds and levels.
Despite this challenging side of teaching, it does bring upon many invaluable benefits. When you see one of your students who has been disengaged become more inspired because of the patience you offered to them, you realize that it was all worth it.
I have noticed a lot of educators shutting the disruptive student down, without trying to sit down and get to the bottom of what’s causing them to act the way they are at that moment. What would be even worse is commanding the student to do the task assigned when they are evidently showing signs of discomfort and lack of motivation.
When you’re in these kinds of situations, there are a few things to keep in mind to make not only the student’s life easier, but also your own:
1) Listen actively
Just like how you want your superior or anyone in general to hear you out when something is bothering you, you want to do the same for your student. Sometimes we forget that there is more to the student than what we see on the surface. After all, they are indeed as human as everyone else. It’s unethical to keep portraying them as products or determinants of one’s teaching capabilities by looking at their marks. These numbers and letters do not reveal anything about their happiness. They do not show how inspired they are to make the world a better place.
It is so crucial to listen actively to what your student has to say while remembering that you cannot tell them what they’re feeling is wrong. You have create a safe space in which they feel comfortable to open up to you without you invalidating their feelings and thoughts. Instead, find ways to aide them in their pain. For example, modifying the class activities or homework to make it easier for them. Of course, you have to remain reasonable when it comes to staying on key with your lesson goals, but keeping it opened to the students’ needs will give them the incentive to return the deed.
2) Respect boundaries and limits
Pushing limits are definitely one way to better oneself. Nevertheless, there are times when your student just cannot go any further and you should not under any circumstance disregard this aspect. It is essential to be aware of the fact that some mental illnesses have a physical manifestation and others do not.
When one of your students claims to be experiencing anxiety that could be crippling, believe them. Do not brush it off, since you do not know them as well as they know themselves.
3) Give them a chance to get out of their slump
Recognize your student’s weaknesses and strengths, then build from there. What I like to do with my students who have difficulty formulating sentences in a given time is give them until next class to present to the class. That way, I know they will not have an excuse, as well as provide them with a comfortable environment to be adventurous with their learning.
Whether your students are children, teenagers or adults, being caring is a must for educators. By learning to be conscious, you are motivating a whole group of learners who can improve the world in many unexpected ways.
Do not be afraid to care. Do not hold back. At the end of the day, you as an educator are training the next leaders. Fight against discipline. Fight instead for thinking critically, inspiration, and responsibility. When your students feel important and valuable, then that will be the defining moment in everyone’s lives.