Knowing Your Students

When teaching in a classroom setting there is a wide variety of individuals present. Public school, especially public high school, contains adolescents that are all undergoing serious changes and facing many new challenges that are bound to create problems in the teacher-student dynamic. Puberty, physical growth, tiredness, and emotional ups and downs are just a few that influence the students’ behavior. As these forces, outside of the teachers control, shape the student’s attitudes, obvious “highs” and “lows” will come. Students want freedom and expression and are very concerned with the way that the world sees them. It is important to keep this in mind but to never allow this to lead to overlooking all behavior. These students have to learn how to come to terms with their emotions in the world that they live in and these odds will face off in the school setting.

To engage students experiencing these feelings, a good idea would be to encourage abstract learning and reasoning as they do so both, independently and with a group. Free discussions can be beneficial and encouraging imagination induces a sense of independence that the students desire. Remember though, the students are not naive and should not be approached in this manner. It is important to engage with the students in a real way and make their experience in your classroom satisfying through your attitudes. Every student comes from a different background and helping them in a way that is specific to them as an individual invites a welcoming environment. Get to know them, have interaction, and provide positive feedback that is helpful in their learning that also encourages confidence. Some will struggle more than others but keeping a well-rounded and intriguing classroom for all parties is necessary.

For teachers too, our different backgrounds influence the way we teach. For some, history is only facts but for others, it is much more and can create a narrative that can be seen through different perspectives and in turn, interpreted differently. Organization of the class can vary, for example, it can be done so chronological and focus on a forward movement, or through causation an eliminates the idea of a linear progression and invoke problems that are worth pondering. This style can change depending on the class you have currently but the main goal is grabbing the students attention and inviting them to learn in an exciting way.

Also remember, there is no way for an educator to know everything. Do not panic, to be the most effective teacher one must acknowledge where they lack knowledge. Learning is a process that involves growth and reexamining what we previously thought we knew as well! Allow your students to tell you how they feel about the topics and make it personal to them. It can benefit your teaching practice as the material is adapted to them!