Why do some kids behave perfectly for certain adults and badly for others? What is that one teacher doing that the others are not? The answer almost always boils down to personal relationships some teachers build. Remember, building valuable things in this world almost never happen super quickly. They almost always take a lot of time, energy, effort, and care. I recommend becoming a skilled listener, question asker, mind reader, and explainer. Each will be outlined below.

  • Time: I personally do not know of any curriculum in this country that offers you built-in time to develop relationships. Your job is to create time in the classroom or find time outside it.
  • Energy: Challenging students are great at draining our energy. Sometimes I literally have to give myself a “pregame pep talk” before working with them! Whatever it takes.
  • Effort: How hard have you really tried? Some teachers tell me, “I have this student and I have tried everything…” Have you called her at home? Have you complimented her privately? Have you told her how much you care? What exactly does “everything” mean?
  • Great explainer: Great explainers can talk a student into or out of most behaviors. They can show the student how it is in his best interest to complete a task. Practice the skill of explaining!
  • Great at reading people: Can you notice if a person is happy, mad, glad, sad, aggravated, etc… without them saying a word? Noticing body language can be a crucial element to building a relationship. Sometimes it is important to back off and give the student some space if it looks like she needs it.
  • Push Boundaries: Ask the question others are not willing to ask. Tell the student how he is feeling even if he does not want to admit it. Ask about home lives and if you do not get much response tell the students about struggles you had as a kid. Again, the goal is to relate.

For more on the relationship building process please read my book The Taming of the Crew.