A few weeks ago I had a Twitter dialogue with Reed Gillespie (@rggillespie) an AP at Kettle Run High School in Nokesville, VA. and Angela Maiers (@AngelaMaiers) who coined the phrase #YouMatter and is an author, educator, and national speaker. Our conversation revolved around a post from Angela titled 12 Things Kids Want from Their Teachers. Twelve simple and free “things” students want and deserve. Don’t we all deserve these?
Reed shared his post What Students Want From Their Teachers he wrote after visiting with students at his high school during lunch. Very similar list.
This got me to thinking “What do Cherokee students want from their teachers?” So, over the course of a few lunch periods from 6th – 8th grade I asked about 75 to 100 of our students “what are the characteristics of your favorite teachers from Kindergarten through now?”
The feedback provided by our very bright and amazing students wasn’t eye opening or earth shattering, but does provide their view of what they want and deserve.
1. “Someone who is funny and makes learning fun.” When digging further the students described this as someone who enjoyed teaching and it showed in the day-to-day interactions with students. Funny means “they laugh with us when we make mistakes and they aren’t always uptight about every little thing.” A few students went on to say, “We make mistakes. We are kids. It’s not that we don’t care. We do care and we really are trying.” Several of the students went on to say, “They (teachers) remember what it is like to be a kid and they don’t take everything so serious.”
2. “Someone that really cares about me.” Basically the overall perception of students is they can tell the difference between “lip service” and genuine caring. Several students said they felt insulted by teachers who “pretend” to care about them. Perception is reality for all of us.
3. The students also lumped “caring” in with “someone who treats everyone the same.” Basically the students stated we are all equal. “We don’t all have the same talents, but we all have something to offer to the class. But in most of my classes “we are all expected to do the same thing.”
4. This led to the “they let us work in groups and on projects!” and “make learning fun.” This was probably the most popular comment. The students mentioned the fact they enjoyed having a choice and hands-on activities. The No. 1 issue brought up with this topic was “some teachers enjoy hearing themselves talk to much. I can Google most of what they tell me.” When I asked more probing questions the students continued by saying “I want to learn by doing. Not writing down facts I will never need.” I dug deeper and found the students want to apply the learning by creating and using technology tools they have at home instead of “always using a poster board or taking a multiple choice test.”
I enjoyed my conversations with our students. Their perception is their reality. They want to be heard and they deserve to be heard. So, I leave you with this video of Angela Maiers speaking about what students WANT and DESERVE – “YOU MATTER!”