Generating, as my high school cooperating teacher called it, “a kid friendly vibe” was my major concern going into student teaching. Having worked with emotionally disturbed students, deaf students, and other special needs groups – often small groups – I worried I might not have the skills to connect with a normal kid. Turns out I was wrong.
Whether I was wrong about my ability to connect or that there might exist a normal kid I am still not sure. Every student I come into contact with has such a rich palate of interests and motivations that I am considering, not for the first time, removing normal from my vocabulary. Not only am I reconsidering normalcy as a non-starter for student evaluation, I am realizing my quirky humor and interest in their lives resonates with the kids.
Relationship, relationship, relationship.
This mantra has been repeated to me over and over. I am not sure what the big deal is? It seems so easy to develop a positive relationship with students. Now there are the few students who I have yet to reach in my current placement. Using the pictorial attendance sheet I marked kids I knew something non-academic about with different colors of pen. The pictures without marker are fairly few but I now know who to talk to over the next week, or run into during track practice, or catch at the library.
Meeting the kids in their comfort zone, their place, makes a difference. This is one of the reasons I use social networks. With my classroom blog, youtube channel, facebook page (not profile), and other social media outlets I think I can show the kids I can live where
they live. Just like connecting with a student over a game of basketball or comparing books read, this is one more way I can build – err – relationship.