Sunday, March 18, 2012
Create to Relate!
What are you doing to relate to your students? Are we, as educators, in touch with our students? Do we know what kind of music they listen to? What food they like to eat? What video games they like to play? What sports they enjoy? What are their hobbies? What is going on with their family? How was their weekend? Their night last night? Their struggles? Their joys? A friend of mine, Chris Tidwell, has been a substitute teacher for Los Angeles Unified School District (twitter: @mrtidwell ). He has served as a guest teacher at any school where he has been needed: anything from the upper class to the lower class demographic. He has answered the call to help out a teacher who needed a day away for whatever reason. One day, he received a notification that he was needed in the lower income neighborhood of Compton. The thing is, Chris would admit that he does not have any reason, really, to receive the respect from the students at Compton. I mean, really? Why should any student from the low income area of Compton (primarily Hispanic or African American) be attracted to a white, Southern, male from the middle class? This is precisely what I respect about my friend, Chris, and so many other individuals who try hard to relate to others no matter what. Even if it means being creative! On the drive to the Compton school, Chris made a decision, knowing all too well he needed something to grab the attention of the students who would probably view him as an alien, a stranger in a foreign land. Chris found a way to reach these students. He was creative in finding this way... He decided to use a British accent. Yes, that is right, a British accent. He used this accent all day long and, yes it was tiring. However, the pay off was worth it as he had the students in the palm of his hands. The students loved it! Gang bangers, drug users, drug dealers, students aspiring to get out of their current state of poverty, potential future stories of inspiration all needed an adult who would do whatever it takes to grab their attention even if just for a day. Chris did this and I believe these students not only liked it, they loved it! Think about it, think about the people in your life who are creative in terms of how they relate to you and then continue to relate to you. Maybe it is a gift they give you because they learned you like that certain something, or they buy you just the right drink from Starbucks because they know you like it. They are trying to relate to you. All of our students need this too. They need adults in their lives who will be creative with their attempts to relate to them. Perhaps, it is using a crazy accent, perhaps it is just asking them questions about their life, whatever it is... Go for it. Take the risk to relate to your students on a daily basis. They will not only like it, I believe they will love it! So, again I ask the following questions: What are you doing to relate to your students? Are you in touch with your students? Do you know what kind of music they listen to? What food they like to eat? What video games they like to play? What sports they enjoy? What are their hobbies? What is going on with their family? How was their weekend? Their night last night? Their struggles? Their joys? Maybe you could even ask them with a silly little accent!