March 19, 2012

Change your lesson plan. Renumber your objectives for the day and make number one: Love your students.

I’ve taught English to students in the US, Korea and Saudi Arabia. One thing’s for sure. You can’t always teach your students what you want to teach them. Or what you think you’re supposed to teach them.

You can try. You can do your best, but things go awry in our own plans. We lose papers or experience technical difficulties. Or a student is simply not able to or motivated to learn at that moment.

But, in those moments, you can still love your students. You can unconditionally love your students.

Even if they just failed the quiz, or just disrupted class. Even if you’re writing up the “Step 3” discipline form or you have no idea to connect to a student. Even if she thinks you don’t like her or he won’t return your smile, you can unconditionally love those students. Even if you lost your cool with him previously (actually, especially if you did), you can unconditionally love him.

As teachers, we must try. Always.

Of course, we’re human. We can’t always pull this off. Some days, or some moments, we’ll fail miserably. (I have documented my failings in earlier posts!)

But we must try.

A fellow teacher was telling me how bad her class was.

“What should I do?”, she asked.

“Love them”, I replied.

“Ohhhhh no, not these students”, she said. “You don’t understand. Especially the worst ones. No. But really, what should I do?”

“Really, love them.”

“I can’t,” she said. Ohhhhhhhh no, I thought.

“You must,” I said.

“I wish I could!” she said, as she walked away. But unconditionally loving our students is a choice. So, we can.

Teachers are taught to be very objective-focused. If our objective is to ensure that each students knows we unconditionally love them, we can make that happen. Certainly everything you say or do is important, but sometimes this connection can be established or kept alive with only a few seconds per student per class.

Why is it important to love them?

Well, when we think about it, what is the point of being a student? Students are there to learn. Why? Because they want to make life somehow better.

When we unconditionally love our students, even for a second, we transport them and ourselves to that endpoint instantly.

We make life somehow better, complete and wonderful for our students and ourselves, in that moment.

And if there are still problems with the class, we at least know that we can make whatever changes are necessary (in the classroom or in our lives), from a state of groundedness …and love.

Fast forward to “better life now” by committing to love your students.

About the Author joangregerson

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