Positive Student Teacher Relationships

So the end of term is upon all my teacher friends. It’s a bit weird to not be there for the end of term leavers’ assembly and it’s odd to think that now both girls have left school there really is very little reason to return to Patana. It has been a large part of all our lives. It sounds cliched but school becomes more than just a place of work. We’ve all made some lifelong friends through work and I guess school has been the centre of our social and work lives. Both our girls have made some super student teacher relationships and I am sure they will keep in touch for many years to come.

Anyway, now there’s only Saint Mick of Thana left at school. He’s had a very busy week running around helping organise set ups for assemblies, (I actually just came across the clip of Betsy’s leavers assembly on youtube, it shows Patana doesn’t do things by halves!), wishing the leaving kids luck for their future and all the other unseen stuff that goes on behind the scenes. It really is the end of an era and a time of change for us all. I know next year he will miss seeing Betsy around the place a lot. Any expat teachers who have kids at the same school where they work will know what I mean. School relationships are important and having good teacher student relationships is essential.

Alumni Relationships

I’m lucky as the advent of social media has meant that I am in touch with lots of alumni students, not only from Patana, but from the other schools I worked at. I feel privileged to have taught these young men and women. Only this week I received a lovely message from a girl, Victoria,  (sorry woman) I taught in my very first teaching role at Fakenham High School, saying that I was that teacher in the quote below. I was hugely flattered and touched, but it was a long time ago and maybe her memory cells have gone a bit skewey! I must have done something right though, as Vic treated me to a lovely ‘afternoon tea’ in London last summer when I was back in the UK. My kind of ex-student friend! My kind of student teacher relationship!

The Significance of Good Teachers

It actually makes me feel pretty humble to get nice notes and so on from ex-students and to think that I had played a tiny-teeny part in their road to success. Getting gifts like these from students is like positive reinforcement, it shows we’re making a good impact on the world (by the way, if you’re a student or ex-student reading this and are thinking of doing something similar, this article might be useful to you: It has also made me reflect on the responsibility associated with the role. (I bet it would have freaked me out if I’d reflected on that too much when I actually was a teacher!) Another student I taught, Hanoi Lamtharn once told me (though a long time ago now) how something relatively small that I had done made a huge difference to his motivation levels when he was feeling fed up of all the IGCSE  English revision he had.  All I had done was write him a little good luck card with a personal message and target, but it had clearly hit the spot. I think when students are appreciated as individuals, rather than just one more kid in the class it is is incredibly empowering for them.

One Way to Mentor Students

Here are some other things that my teacher friends have done to make their students feel specia. I think it is one way of mentoring students in a pastoral sense.

  • Personalized cards congratulating students on a great year, and highlighting a particular achievement. This might be reading more challenging books or mastering a particular Maths skill or language tense. If there is a need for further study during the holidays this is a nice way to set a bit of summer learning. (Though I’m all for a well done without any targets attached!)
  • Lending children their own, personally owned books, for them to read during the holidays. If they are precious to you, let parents know too and make sure the children is returning to school. 
  • Asked the students to send them a summer postcard This shows the kids that you care what they are doing and are invested in them as people.
  • Between the chaos of end of term parties and celebrations (so I don’t know how they managed this!) made time for a two to three minute private chat with every child in the class, reminding them of their strengths and giving them courage and strategies for any expected difficulties they may face.
  • During the final week, when they are on their knees with exhaustion, shown old video footage of the students in learning activities, eg role plays, or presentations. The kids have loved looking at how they’ve changed over the year/s.
  • Filled a jar with positive memories (one each) about each child in the class and then shared them. I guess you could get the kids to write the memories themselves too and turn this into a PSHE actibity.
  • Made a fuss and big deal of taking group class photos of the class (being child safety aware and not using their on your own phone or camera). I think the plan is to then email these photos to the children and parents at the end of term, attached with a very positive feel good message.

I think it is testament to teachers’ dedication and willingness to go over and above for their kids that they have found the energy to do this. I can see that they are a lovely way to start the summer and, I guess, a reminder for the teacher too of all the good bits of the year. Its hard work but I know that I have welcomed, very much, the friendly and positive correspondence in this vein, from Betsy’s fabulous Head of Year. It has meant a lot to know that she has been genuinely cared for. Thanks Claire.

Anyway, I think that really is it for me in terms of teacher talk. I am grateful for having positive student teacher relationships and I have enjoyed looking at how teachers go that extra step to bring a personal touch to mentoring students. Kindness is key to so much! The era is offically ended. From now on my blog posts will be strictly about Porsche, oh no, I mean Landrover driving. A little hint about what Saint Mick of Thana might be getting for his birthday. Happy holidays everyone.

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