This past week I got to attend and present sessions at the CETPA 2017 conference. While there I attended two sessions that stood at beyond the content of what was being presented. As I continue to present at various conferences, I am always looking for what makes a presenter better than others. I got to see two speakers who showed me what to works and what doesn’t.
The first presenter, Martin Cisneros, was everything I hope I can be: funny, engaging, knows the content well, and open to questions or suggestions. The other presenter was the exact opposite. While he seemed to know his information and he really did try to engage the audience, he offended a few members of his audience. I’m not even sure he knew he did it. Unfortunately he decided to talk down about teachers using tech, especially if they were career teachers who hadn’t worked in other industries. I believe there was also something about teachers who had been teaching for longer than 10 years. As someone who is both of those who happens to be techy AND attending a technology in education conference, not only did he offend me, but he lost the ability to share his knowledge with me. I no longer wanted to learn from him.
This got me thinking about our classrooms. Every year we get a new group of students, yet we teach the same way to all of them. We might do a few team building or “Get to Know You” activities in the beginning of the year, but how much does this tell us about the kids. If we really want to make a difference and have the students trust us enough to learn from us, we need to take it further. I see this whenever I have students for multiple years (one of the drawbacks and pluses of teaching combo classes in California!). Those students are the ones who tend to do the best in my class. It’s not because they know what I want (which does help), but it’s more that we know each other better. There isn’t a lot of time being spent having to get to know each other. I understand what they need and where I can take them. They trust me to help them learn.
There have been many blogs/podcasts/talks that share how important relationships are in the classroom. There is a reason it’s such a common topic.So while there will be a mad rush to get some academics done before the end of the semester, it’s also a great time to get to know your class. Share a few things about yourself. Ask a few more questions about what they are doing over the breaks or with their families. There is still time to change around that kid who you haven’t quite reached. It’s all about knowing your audience.
20+ year teacher, mother of 2 kids and 2 dogs, wife, lover of all things M&M, interested in tech in the classroom, and changing up my teaching