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Without this, however, empathy may never get a chance to emerge. Young adolescents closely watch the reactions of adults to see if they practice what they preach. For example, if Tom, a seventh grade student, erupts in class one day because he is being teased for being a "suck-up," a very typical teacher response is, "Just try to ignore what the other kids are saying. Demanding respect is not as effective as earning it, and how the teacher comports himself or herself has much to do with how he or she is viewed and respected by students.
To successfully build relationships and apply the skills mentioned in this article, leaving the ego at the door can be viewed as a prerequisite. At various times, leaving the ego at the door can be connected to issues of culture as well. When a disruptive young adolescent routinely pushes a teacher's buttons, that teacher has an ideal opportunity to apply the practice of leaving the ego at the door.
"Evaluating teacher stress and its effect on student behaviors in an al" by Kimberly Nizolek
It is human nature for teachers, or anyone for that matter, to get upset when an adolescent pokes fun at a personally sensitive topic or issue. This is especially true when it comes to the topic of authority. Many teachers believe that they must have absolute authority in the classroom. They also believe that this authority comes automatically with their status as the teacher and does not necessarily have to be earned. When students question this authority by being non-compliant or engaging in disruptive behaviors, they may easily trigger an emotional reaction from the teacher see Dooner, et al.
For example, Sammy, an eighth grade student, might say, "Why should I listen to you? You're just a middle school teacher. Why don't you have a good job? I know a lot more than you do, and I know you have detention today. See me after school. This usually happens when the adult does not take the opportunity to examine his or her own vulnerabilities on a regular basis.
Relationship between behavior and academic performance
When the disruptive adolescent repeatedly insults or disobeys the teacher, the teacher's ego takes over, demanding respect. If the teacher had taken the time to examine his or her own vulnerabilities, he or she might have said, "You sound like my mother. She didn't think I should become a teacher either. She wanted me to wear a starched shirt and tie every day and work in a big law firm.
But I tell her I get to be a part of the lives of more than seventh graders—including yours, Sammy. What more power do I need? When a teacher is self-aware of vulnerabilities, such as the need for power, he or she is more likely to respond strategically rather than emotionally. For example, a teacher who knows he is sensitive to students questioning his authority can anticipate that middle grades students will, in fact, question his authority. Such awareness can lead to the use of empathy or the admiration of negative behaviors, as previously discussed.
In essence, the key to leaving one's ego at the door is awareness. Developing relationships with students who come from culturally different backgrounds can be challenging and requires specific skills from new and experienced teachers alike Nieto, a, b, The recommendations for forming relationships made earlier in this article are essential when cultural differences are present.
That is, having empathy, admiring negative behaviors, and leaving one's ego at the door can go a long way toward bridging the gap between culturally or linguistically different CLD learners and the teacher. The challenges within the cross-cultural encounter lie in overcoming the additional barriers that prevent teachers from letting down their guard to empathize and develop stronger relationships with students. These barriers exist due to a fear of the culturally different, a lack of knowledge about the differences and similarities between cultures, persistent negative stereotyping, and general intolerance.
To overcome these barriers and develop multicultural competence, a teacher must overcome his or her fears and unresolved issues regarding cultural difference. This can be achieved by gaining deeper knowledge about himself or herself and the culturally different student. Bradfield-Kreider, Practices from the field of counseling have great promise for enhancing relationships in the culturally diverse classroom. In counseling, multicultural competence consists of being acutely aware of cultural attitudes, beliefs, knowledge, and skills of both the counselor and the client Arredondo, Training new counselors involves an examination of how the new counselors feel about themselves and culturally different clients.
Such competencies can easily be used as a guide for classroom teachers who want to enhance their relationships with CLD students.
It is important to help teachers become aware of how their racial and cultural heritages may impact their classroom climates. This awareness helps prepare teachers to identify and work through any existing intolerance they may have for students who come from different ethnic, racial, class, or religious backgrounds. It is equally important for teachers to be aware of their negative and positive emotional reactions to CLD students.
For example, if the disruptive adolescent described in the previous scenario happens to come from a racial or ethnic background that is different from that of the teacher, checking one's ego becomes more complicated. It is, therefore, vital for the teacher to be aware of his or her cultural and personal biases and the connections between the two. Then, when challenges to authority occur, the teacher who is aware of his or her "stuff" is better equipped to respond in more strategic ways. Such self-examination helps teachers leave their egos at the door and ultimately develop empathy for those they teach.
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Teachers who are vested in educating students who come from such backgrounds should develop relationships by making meaning of the curriculum as it relates to their lived experiences outside the school. Taking this approach allows teachers to share their own personal experiences about hardship, triumph, and failure, regardless of the similarities or differences with the student's life.
Programs such as Facing History and Ourselves www. Facing History and Ourselves engages students from diverse backgrounds in an examination of racism and prejudice to promote a more informed and tolerant citizenship. Through study and discussions of current and past historical events, students are encouraged to analyze their own thinking, see the world from more than one perspective, and place themselves in someone else's shoes as they examine events from history around the world. Together, students and teachers struggle to form judgments about human behaviors.
Even though many of these events may occur miles away in different states and different countries, many of the core issues are still the same.
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When teachers use curriculum and content that hold personal meaning to them and their students, barriers are more likely to break down for everyone, and relationship building has a better chance. This strategy would be useful to a teacher with students who have recently immigrated to the United States. It would promote an appreciation for one's own culture and for the cultures of others that are represented in the classroom.
It also would provide a forum for sharing difficulties that teachers and students have faced, some of which will be a result of culture and race. A similar strategy, developed by Rethinking Schools , provides a template for teachers and students to write a poem called "Where I'm From" that reveals information about their lives outside school Christensen, Students are encouraged to include information in the poem by studying items found in their homes, in their yards, and in their neighborhoods and the names of relatives, foods, and places they keep in their childhood memories.
For a teacher with students from a variety of cultures in one classroom, these poems could be read aloud and posted to provide a powerful way of building relationships and community in the classroom. For both of these strategies, it is critical that the teacher participate by completing the assignments and sharing them as well. Teachers in middle level schools must be well prepared to face the challenges of working with young adolescents; and critical components of teacher preparation are the knowledge and skills from education and related fields that will enable them to develop effective, and often unconventional, management systems in their classrooms.
Teacher Praise: An Efficient Tool to Motivate Students
This effort must begin with a new paradigm in which teachers view classroom management as an ongoing exercise in building relationships. For dealing with the most challenging of students, teachers can learn and apply strategies used in the field of counseling and psychotherapy, such as building empathy, admiring negative attitudes and behaviors, and leaving one's ego at the door. It seems particularly important to provide specific strategies for dealing with what can often be the problems that prevent us from persevering in the important work of helping students learn.
In the area of classroom management, it is critical that teachers find ways of building relationships with all students, from the most motivated to the most difficult. To borrow the words of Rogers and Renard , when we enter into understanding human needs and relationship-driven teaching, "amazing things can happen" p. Extensions Identify three obstacles that interfere with your ability to make meaningful connections with your students. Think of an educator from your past with whom you did not connect. What would you say to that educator about building relationships with students? Adelman, H.
School counselors and school reform: New directions. Professional School Counseling, 5 , — Adler, A. The individual psychology of Alfred Adler: A systematic presentation in selections from his writings. Anderman, E. Declining motivation after the transition to middle school: Schools can make a difference.