This is phrase I borrowed from my former head of department to reinforce the principle that students must listen to me. As you can see, I am not a pro at teaching if I have still have issues with students listening to me. I’ve found this to be the most challenging part of teaching because once you can get all of the students to listen to you and follow your directions, your job becomes invariably easier. With adolscent learners, especially middle schoolers, this task feels as though it is nearly impossible.
I’ve learned that one of the best ways of getting students to listen to me is to first listen to them. In other words, build a good rapport with students. I think this is easier with high school students that have an idea of who they are and why they come to school. As for 11 and 12 year olds, this is a different ball game. Yes, you want to have a good relationship with them, but you also have to be the authority figure that lays down the law. The cultural context that you live in also shapes the relationships that you have with students. For example, when I worked in an inner-city school in the States, a nice and polite teacher was considered weak and a push over. So, naturally, I learned to be tough and to deal with the students in a rough manner. This disposition has earned me cheers and jeers where I presently work due to a climate of “I can have whatever I want and there’s nothing you can do about it.” Fortunately, or unfortunately, I don’t enable my students to be more spoiled than they already are. As a result, I’m usually not the popular teacher or at least not the one that all of the kids like. Nonetheless, I did not get into teaching to be liked or popular, but to do a job. A good job.
So, how do I get all of the students to listen to me when I want them to? I’m still working on that.