Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Building trust side by side

There is always at least one needy student in every classroom.  I think that every year when the school year begins, the teacher has all the best intentions to seek out, and shower that student with so much attention that, voila!, problem solved.  But as the school year progresses, she realizes that helping the needy student is a lot more easier said than done. 

The problem that I notice is that a cycle begins, that is extremely difficult to break and then correct.  The problem is that when the needy student starts looking for attention,  her behavior begins to push the teacher away.  The teacher has already given so much of her attention away to this student, that she doesn't have the energy needed to continue trying to fill her needs.   Then the teacher begins to get tired, grumpy, stressed and probably many other emotions that further work to make her want to alienate herself from the needy student.  When the student feels this negative energy, she needs more, and begins to act out and worse to get it because the teacher is too exhausted to give the attention on an every day basis.

So what can is the teacher to do?  Well, there is a strategy called Side by Side.  What the teacher does is take the student for a walk.  It must be a walk.  Walking is known to decrease stress and get the blood and glucose flowing as it should so both teacher and student can have a stress free conversation.   The teacher gives her time to the student and the student receives the attention she so desperately needs.  There is no guidelines of rules to this conversation, only the pair must walk side by side, shoulder to shoulder.   It is a natural conversation that lets the student know a little about the teacher, and the teacher can gain very powerful insight into what makes this student tick.

You'd be surprised as to what these conversations will produce.  The teacher can learn so much about the family life,  hobbies and sports, friends,  dreams, and so much more!  But most importantly, the teacher is building a powerful bond between student and teacher that will benefit both.  Because the teacher is giving up special, undivided quality time with the student, the student's needs are being met.  She will become less needy and the cycle explained above will be broken.  The teacher will also gain from this interaction.   Aside from of course, calming the unwanted behavior that comes from neediness, the teacher will most likely, truly like this student after taking the time to get to know her. 

Side by side is not a miracle strategy.  Like anything, results come from hard work and the teacher is going to have to schedule time each week for these Side by Side chats, but the results are completely worth every second of time spent.   Plus, the teacher gets to accomplish her beginning of the year goal of being there for all students.   She has broken the chain that prevents this needy student from getting the attention she needs, and gets a chance to watch her blossom and grow first hand.

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