10 Ways to Kill Relationships with Your Students

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By Reed Gillespie

via: barnesandnoble.com

Every novice teacher has been told, “Don’t smile until Christmas,” or “You have to establish yourself as an authoritarian.”

I’m not sure worse advice could be given. We might as well call such advice what it is How to kill your relationships with your students.
Here are ten other ways to establish yourself as an authoritarian kill relationships with your students.
  1. Threaten students and use loss-framed statements –  If you do that, this (negative punishment) will happen to you. Simply flipping the statement into a positive context, If you do this, then something good will happen to you, turns the statement from one of manipulation to a commitment to the student.
  2. Treat each student the same –  Fair isn’t everyone getting the same thing. Fair is everyone getting what he/she needs to be successful. 
  3. Never admit mistakes –  Educators must model and build trust; admitting mistakes will set an example for your students to follow. 
  4. Blame your students  Instead of blaming the students, their poor work habits, their lack of skills, social-familial factors, etc. ask yourself, “What can I do now to make sure they’ll learn it?” Even better, ask them. 
  5. Don’t worry about your students’ lives outside of your classroom – As John Wooden said, “Seek opportunities to show you care. The smallest gestures often make the biggest difference.” 
  6. Operate with a fixed mindset –  Educators with a fixed mindset believe intelligence is fixed. They can often be heard in the teacher’s workroom complaining about students lacking skills or abilities. They’ll label students and place the primary responsibility for student learning on the students. Instead, teach with a growth-mindset, one in which you believe in your power to change, influence and teach all students.
  7. Don’t allow students second chances – If it’s important enough to teach, it’s important enough for students to learn. Failure is part of the learning process and provides an opportunity for learning and growth. We must teach our students to rise to the challenge of our high expectations, to continuously learn and we must reward students for their sustained efforts. 
  8. Don’t adjust your teaching to meet your students’ needsOne-size-fits-all and teaching to the “middle” students is easier, but we must find ways to reach each and every student. 
  9. Be negative – Negativity only fuels further negativity. Teachers who look for flaws in their students will find them, but will have little time left to build students’ academic and social skills. 
  10. Never offer explanations –“I’m the teacher,” simply doesn’t fly, nor does “Because I said so.” Student questions deserve a true response, whether it’s to “Why are we learning this?” or “Do we have to do this?” We should be able to provide our students with a legitimate answer. If we can’t, why are they doing it?
    Teachers should strive to establish themselves as the classroom authority, but doing so doesn’t require us to be authoritarian or dictatorial. By listening, explaining and building relationships with our students, enables us to maintain control while building trust and respect.

    Reed Gillespie writes about education for Brilliant or Insane. Learn more about Reed on our Team page. Follow Reed on Twitter here.

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    Reed Gillespie

    Reed is a longtime educator and coach, who is passionate about progressive learning and 21st-century assessment practices. Read more of his work here. "I'm a co-moderator of #VAchat, a Twitter conversation for Virginia (and non-Virginian) educators that meets Monday's at 8 ET. Most importantly, I'm a father of four wonderful children and a couple grandchildren. In my free time, I enjoy cooking, reading, sports and, of course, spending time with family."
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