To all young (and experienced) teachers out there: I have an easy (and simple) tip that will instantly transform your relationship with your students: GET INVOLVED! Whether it be leading the yearbook club or student council, volunteering to keep the gate at sporting events, or coaching a sport, when you are involved and active in the building, the students take notice. When students see you playing an active role in their interests (and their school) they come to realize that you are truly “in it” for them. Does it require more time outside the classroom? Absolutely. Does it mean you will spend more time at school? For sure. But, does it mean you will develop more meaningful relationships with students in the classroom? You betcha.
So, just how do you do it? Volunteer! Tell your principal you’d like to lead the club that has that opening. Express interest in the coaching position that just became open. What’s that? You don’t know anything about coaching the lacrosse team or the chess club? Well, learn! Youtube is a great resource to teach you the basics! Don’t feel comfortable taking on something so foreign in your first year? Ask the coach or whoever is “in charge” if you can help out - that way you can learn from them as you go! What if there is nothing offered at your school that you have an interest in? Well, start your own club! Find something in your content area that you can lead! Find your niche! In history, I’ve recently launched the History Club that meets after school to conduct research on annual National History Day projects and to prepare for our state competition in the We the People program. Down the road I hope to create a Model UN team (a looooong way down the road).
I have always seen leading extracurricular activities as an extension of the classroom. Second only to creating hands-on, active learning experiences, I have found no other way to more efficiently create a positive rapport with my students. And, while building positive relationships to facilitate learning is always the goal, I must say that being involved throughout the school has helped me too! I have taken more ownership in my building. I get excited as I see goals that seemed so far out come to fruition. I enjoy getting to know my students outside of the standard classroom setting. So, if you want my tip, get involved!