The teacher with no spare time…
“You must meet Zarin,”
the school counselor said as she introduced the math teacher to me.
“Zarin has no free time because she is always talking to the students. If she finishes lunch a few minutes early, you’ll find her listening to students discuss their clothes, video games, vacation plans…”
“No, I’m not nosy…” Zarin smiled at me. “I like to know what’s going on in my students’ lives. It’s such an easy way to build a good relationship with them. Talking to them gives me an insight into their likes and dislikes. If I can use their interest to cite examples it definitely perks their attention.”
“And of course, if I have to redirect them or be firm with them for any reason, I find that they listen to me without antagonism. They may not like what I say or the consequences I give, but they understand that it is not because I’m exercising my authority. I believe this is because they feel I’m interested in them.”
“Was it a spontaneous or planned decision?” I asked her.
“Did I plan this strategy from the beginning of my career? Is that what you want to know? Well, you hear a lot about the importance of teacher student relationships… for me, it started with a cheeky girl in my early years of teaching. I commented on how nice her hair looked and she started a discussion on her hair care routine. Other students joined in and shared some interesting tidbit or the other. This happened frequently and soon I noticed that they were better focused and redirected in class.”
“This is when I made a conscious decision to talk to my students—just to engage with them for a few minutes. You know what?” she paused. “Over a period of time students from other classes also stopped to chat with me. Some of other teachers think I do it to be popular but I like listening to their ideas and point of views,” she ended.
Do you plan what to say?” I asked.
“No, I listen. The students talk about their interests and hobbies and occasionally their concerns. If it is serious, I tell them I have to involve the counselor. So far they’ve trusted me,” she smiled.
The school counselor continued the conversation later “And guess what? We’ve been able to stop some serious bullying, help students facing very difficult home lives, and even advocate for a child with depression—all because the students feel they can trust Zarin and talk to her. That is the power of teacher student relationships!”