Relationships with Students

One thing that I’ve been thinking about a lot this week is the personal relationships that I have formed with my students. Some students in my class are easy to bond with and naturally flock to me, while others haven’t been as easy to win over. When I first started going out into the field through my placements as a junior, I still felt the need to win every student over. As I’ve gotten further into the program, I’ve come to the realization that every student isn’t always going to love me, especially when I’m pushing them to follow expectations and learn things that are challenging for them. At the same time, I have learned that students are capable of understanding that just because you’re hard on them at times doesn’t mean you don’t genuinely care for them. In fact, from my experience, they can be very understanding of the concept of tough love, so long as you always communicate with them sincerely. Most of my students are smart enough to know that negative attention is better than no attention at all and that everything I do comes from a place of love. With that being said, some of them have been really hard to win over, especially the boys in my class. 

In my past placements, where I’ve worked with younger students, the divide between my male and female students hasn’t been at noticeable. I feel like 4th grade is right at the cusp of when students start to separate themselves a little more from the opposite sex. In fact, 4th grade is right on the cusp of everything. One reason I love fourth grade so much is that I appreciate how developed the student’s personalities are at this point. One downfall is that this is the age that they start to develop a bit of an attitude, and notice what sets them apart from others more. I wonder how much of my struggle to develop deeper relationships with the boys in my class has to do with this and how much of it has to do with me. This is completely different from some of my past placements with younger students, who automatically think everything you do is so cool and love you (mostly) unconditionally. Finding out ways to access their interests and bond with these the boys in my class has proven to be quite difficult. I’ve been trying to be more aware of my biases as a woman and how they impact how I interact with students as well, but it isn’t exactly easy to be that self-aware, especially when you’re running around trying to manage a class full of 24 students. My inability to connect with all of my students on the same level can be a source of guilt for me sometimes. 

With all that being said, luckily for me, I am going on my second semester with these same students. The sheer amount of time I have been able to spend with these students has already enabled me to build deeper relationships with them than I have with any of my students before. I feel genuinely lucky and quite spoiled to have had such an amazing group of students as my “first” class. I can say that I this is probably my favorite age group to work with, and I hope that the more experience I get, the better I will be at forging these relationships with all students.