I’m in the last week of my high school practicum. I have been with 11th graders in high school for the past four and a half weeks. They’re a lot of fun, and I am enjoying my time with them. But I don’t want to talk about them today.
Rather, I want to talk about the teachers I have been with who have been mentors and guides with me on this journey. I have learned a lot from both of the teachers I have worked with. But this whole time, there has been a striking difference to me between the two of them that affects their classroom management and environment.
The biggest difference I have encountered is that my cooperating teacher for my high school practicum is actually able to engage with his students. This is something that my middle school practicum teacher struggled with. As a result, every aspect of the classroom is run better in the high school classroom I have been in than the middle school one. The students respond better and they act out less. This makes teaching go smoother.
Now, I recognize there is an age gap here. You might think that my 11th graders might be more disciplined than my 6th graders, and that may be part of the reason. But my 6th graders responded well to me because I could relate to them. I wrote a few weeks ago how I lost control of the 6th grade class for a few minutes when I was talking about globalization because I brought up Nintendo as an example. My 6th graders would talk to me about every random thing they were interested in.
My high school practicum teacher, on the other hand, connects to his students all the time so they understand what he’s talking about. As a result, all his students seem to love him. For example, today in class we were talking about militarization. My teacher related it to shoes, something that the students were interested in. All of a sudden, it made a lot more sense to them. When students feel seen, they respond better, and things go much more smoothly. There aren’t as many behavior infractions because the students actually respect the teacher because he relates to them and their lives.
And while I mention this for teaching, this is really applicable for just about anyone. Family, work, When you can relate to someone, they respond better, and you establish a better relationship. I know a little bit about a lot of topics and can contribute to conversations. For that reason, I enjoy learning about things that interest other people. And then I make it a point to remember what I have learned when that topic comes up again.
Look. We’re all human. We all live our lives. And while there may be differences, none of us want to go and be isolated. It’s not enjoyable. So connect with people and learn something new. Don’t make everything about you. Understand that other people have lives too and work to get involved!