When I was in high school, there wasn’t the expectation that teachers and students would build relationships. As a student, I went to class, did my work, and got my grade. It was the teacher’s job to teach.
That’s not the case anymore, particularly at my school.
Sure, some students do well in their classes regardless of their teacher. But for many of my students, the teacher in the room matters more than anything else.
Like and respect the teacher = I will work hard and will succeed.
Don’t like or don’t respect the teacher = I won’t work hard and won’t succeed.
My experience is that it’s my job, not the student’s, to initiate and build the teacher-student relationship. This is likely because I’m a white teacher working with all students of color. At a school that purports to challenge social inequity, I represent the unjust dominant paradigm.
While I understand this dynamic, I’m not an extrovert, so establishing and deepening a relationship with my students does not come easily. It’s clear that I care about my students, but my students need to feel that care. Sometimes, that takes a long time.
The problem is, When there are only a few more months until the AP English exam, we can’t exactly waste any time. That’s why it’s imperative that I deliberately work on a daily basis to connect with my students’ heads and hearts.