School teachers and therapists can be incredibly influential in children’s lives. Think about it – they spend 6-8 hours per day with a class of students, teach them knowledge necessary for life, help them solve problems, and instigate creativity in their minds. They are the beings that children are taught to respect and listen to, and can even contribute to a student’s future career in education or a certain line of work.
As much as educators are impacting students during the school days, there could be certain things they’re unaware of affecting students at home. Many factors in student home life can influence their attitude, learning progress, motivation to attend class, and overall well-being. If teachers or therapists only knew what some students were going through, they could be even more influential, as empathy and compassion are some of the major qualities that create trust. This can also help develop stronger relationships with parents. When teachers are aware of what students are struggling with outside of school, it helps the teacher tailor their approach when communicating with parents and family members.
A recent article from the New York Times tells how one teacher was determined to get to know her students on a deeper level, by simply asking them to finish the sentence, “I wish my teacher knew ____”. She found that a lot of students weren’t as happy or supported as she thought.
This simple exercise opened her eyes to the struggles a number of her students were facing, but were too timid to talk about out loud. Now that she knows what these students are going through, she can tailor her teaching approach, school activities, and home assignments to their situation. The responses from this method even inspired her to write a book, encouraging a larger audience of teachers and parents to understand how to develop a caring school environment.
For educators or school therapy clinicians who may be struggling with certain students, always remember the strong impact you can have on a student’s learning progress just by attempting to understand them. Your understanding, empathy, and care can really make a difference in a student feeling supported and/or motivated to come to school at all. Keep up the great work in supporting our youth, and try to think of ways to show you really care for students like this teacher did!
Read the full article and student responses from the exercise here.