Building a better relationship with my better students?

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by Peregrin5, Dec 31, 2013.

  1. RadiantBerg

    RadiantBerg Cohort

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    Jan 1, 2014

    I find it the opposite. I spend much more time with my struggling students---they are always in my room for extra help, and I tend to learn more about them. The stronger students would be fine without much guidance from me, and they never come in outside of class time.
     
  2. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    I think you have similar experiences with both of us then. That is the behavior HeartDrama was describing as well.
     
  3. GemStone

    GemStone Habitué

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    I don't see it as our job to keep kids interested all year. Life won't always throw them a dog-and-pony show just to get them to do required things.

    There is a middle ground between teaching things from a textbook and a fun and games kind of classroom.

    I LOVE history. My kindle has over 500 historical fiction and non-fiction books. I will read them for fun all day long.

    A science class like you describe would not appeal to me. My personality is quiet and reserved. I would hate group work and "fun" stuff all the time. I wouldn't need to be entertained because I always had intrinsic motivation to do well. I would want you to teach more lecture-style. All those extra activities in science would drain me.
     
  4. RadiantBerg

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    It sounded like she was describing the exact opposite---that the students are closest to the teacher where they perform the best in. The students I know best hate math with a burning passion :lol:Either way, I don't think it's worth worry much about. For some students, you are just the presenter of the lesson, and I think that is okay.
     
  5. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Something little that helps me connect to my quieter students:hyperbole at their expense.

    I joke around in class a lot. And my kids tend to see me as a mom-like figure; they know I'm not mean spirited in what I say to them. So, for example, a week or two ago I was explaining why school policy prohibits using highlighters on trimester exams. In each class, I chose a bright, quiet kid to use as my example: "Everyone knows that Kelci is a big old cheater and would copy off Tommy if he highlighted his answers." (And, no, I would never choose a kid for whom there was the slightest doubt that the grades were legit.)

    The quiet, bright kids aren't always used to being part of the laughter; they tend to fade into the background. So asking them to call when we play Bingo, or including them on the jokes, really does help them feel part of the classroom community.

    As does: "Kelci, did I tell you about my car trouble yesterday?" when Kelci is the first one to arrive in class. Again, those kids are used to fading into the background and not asking questions... we need to make a conscious effort to include them in all the not-strictly-academic-stuff that happens in class.
     
  6. a2z

    a2z Maven

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    Yep. High-achievers don't necessarily like extra work.
     
  7. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    I think it's perfectly ok not to connect with every single kid every single day. You're there to teach and you'll obviously help those more who struggle. Over time you can build relationships with the higher students by having small conversations, ask them question, make comments / compliments (wow, I like your jacket / did you get a haircut, etc.), but of course don't force those.

    I noticed before that some of the higher students will not have a very outgoing personality and it's hard to crack their shell (which makes me wonder, do I even need to crack it?). And I've met some students who really didn't care about the content / subject, they just wanted a good grade (could be parental pressure, or their own).
     
  8. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    So, first Peregrin I've said if before, but I'm constantly impressed with how reflective you are as a teacher. Even after you've accomplished so much, you always want to improve, which is awesome.

    I guess my first question would be are you sure it's the fact that they are high-achieving students? I've always found relationships to be based more on personality or other variables, so it's interesting to me that you're seeing that pattern. If so, I guess my first line of thought would be as others have suggested - it may well be academically related.

    Another thought though - I wonder if you are more invested in your students that are struggling, and that shows to other students. I wonder if you yourself are demonstrating less interest because you find them less interesting? I know with me I've tended to find struggling students more interesting, and they probably pick up on that.

    Another thought would be that students who aren't struggling may not have as much of a need to connect on a deeper level with adults in school. I guess you mentioned those students have closer relationships with other students, but I've found that struggling students who are disengaged in other areas of their life have more need.

    Not sure if any of that's helpful, but thought I'd throw some thoughts in the mix.
     
  9. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    I think that could be it, too, at least that would be the reason for me. I always found struggling students more interesting, and I get bored with those who seem to have no problems and seem to breeze through life (or at least in school).
    I also found that it was always the quiet students who I got to know the least, even their names were the last ones I had learned. It's not fair, but that's how it is.
    And I think that's what Peregrin meant with the gift comment, that the students who would be the most deserving (and the ones who actually bring presents sometimes) are the ones we hardly know, which should be the other way around.
     
  10. a2z

    a2z Maven

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    Let me first say I am NOT saying you do this Peregrin. I just want to share how a student experiencing something like this will carry it over to other classes.

    I know a student who was a high achiever but was struggling with a required task in another class. This student asked me to help at which point I told her she needed to ask the teacher that was requiring the task because that teacher has her own expectations. The student came back distraught. The teacher looked in the grade book, saw the grade, and told the student she was doing fine. The problem was that the student was taking 3 times as long to do the work that was required than it should have taken. That teacher didn't care because the student had great grades and was doing the work.

    Sometimes high achievers come into classes with baggage just like strugglers do. Sometimes it is that they are not valued in the same way as strugglers. So, some develop the attitude that they will do their work and lay low. They stop attempting to build a relationship with a teacher because they were taught if they were doing well that is all that is desired from the teacher.

    We often let high achievers struggle and figure things out themselves because they have the ability. Sometimes if they have had enough classes like that where the focus was on the needier students, they just don't care to try to make that connection anymore because the expectation is that if they are doing fine they just need to blend and not cause problems.

    I admire, Peregrin, that you are thinking about this. You may not be able to develop the relationship you are looking for with these students. Some may need it emotionally as your gut is telling you.
     
  11. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Can I once again give Peregrin a shout out for asking the tough questions of himself??

    Man, what a huge difference a year has made for you!!!
     
  12. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    Thanks guys! :wub:

    What I've taken away from this thread so far: more advanced students are more likely to be swayed by differentiating instruction for them so they're not bored with basic things that are below their level. Once they're challenged, they'll be at a point where they'll be a little more reliant on the teacher to help them through, and a better teacher-student relationship can be built there. There needs to be an element of struggle or challenge for the students for that relationship to build, which makes sense to me because the better students usually build strong bonds with the geometry teacher (geometry is the most advanced math at our school). I can guess that geometry class is an environment where they are not only with peers at their level but also being challenged constantly.
     
  13. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    Okay, well I think I found a good source of material that would be great for offering to higher level students as a challenge.

    My only problem now is how to offer it to them without it becoming extra work for them (it will probably have to replace homework, which brings up issues in my grading system), without it separating the class into high and low level students (do I have to offer it to everyone? should I offer it secretly?), and how will they obtain it (do I have to offer it to them every time it's available, or have a spot in the room where they can grab it if they want it, or again do I just offer it to everyone?).

    I also need to figure out how to make it appealing to these students. Some will just want to do the easier work because it's easier.
     
  14. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    Find some sort of objective way to offer it that you know your high-flyers will meet and the rest won't. Give some small pre-assessment, some other criteria, etc.

    And replacing homework would be the best way to go. As far as grading goes... just replace it with the equivalent of a 100%. Since homework is meant to practice a particular skill, and you're probably determining that they don't need to practice that skill... If that doesn't work, just have a very objective rubric available.
     
  15. 2ndTimeAround

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    You could give a pretest for the material you are about to cover and then separate your class that way. You can also create two different assignments in PowerSchool and exempt one group from one assignment and the other from the other assignment. I wouldn't suggest that route though - you would want the assignments to be of equal value.

    The key is to not make one assignment more "work" than the other. Just more challenging. That is incredibly difficult to do. My own child learned in second grade that the smarter kids received more work to do. Her best friend, our next-door neighbor, only had five spelling words per week. My dd had five per day. She decided early on that she would start bombing the spelling tests so she would get easier assignments.
     

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