Teaching is a hectic job. If you are reading this, you are most likely a volunteer teacher or tutor. Which means you have probably rushed from your job or home in order to arrive at your class about the time your students do. You may be frazzled and in a rush to set out the materials you need for your class. If you share your classroom space (like most volunteers) you may even spend a lot of time hunting down the basics like chairs and glue sticks. Your students are lucky to get a quick group hello before diving in to the day’s lesson.
All of that is perfectly normal. The fact that you are volunteering your free time and often spending your own money to provide materials for your students is admirable. Let me encourage you to re-think your entrance just a little though. You see, one of the goals of Teach One Reach One is to teach your students about God and His love for them. The best way for you to teach your students about God’s love is to reflect it accurately to your students.
Put yourself in the shoes of your students for a moment. There are all sorts of programs and churches using Teach One Reach One materials, but I believe all of your students have some things in common.
- They need to feel God’s love and yours.
- They need to feel they matter to God and to you as the unique individuals they are.
- They need to feel they hold a special place in God’s heart and in yours.
- They need to feel known and that you and God have unconditional love for them even if you must correct their behaviors.
- They need to feel your classroom environment will nurture them into reaching their God given potential in all areas of their lives.
There are a lot of ways to help meet your students’ needs. One of the easiest is by taking a little extra time and give each of your students a special greeting. So what is a special greeting? Here are some tips:
- Look each student in the eye, smile and call them by name when they first enter the room.
- Say something pleasant to each child as you greet them. It doesn’t have to be a compliment. It can be as simple as telling them you are glad they came to class today and that you are excited to see them.
- Ask each student a question about something that is important to him/her. Maybe you heard one of your students mention she was going to have a game that night. The next morning when you greet her, ask how the game went. Perhaps you know Johnny always has piano lessons on Tuesday’s. Wednesday morning ask him what new musical piece the teacher assigned him. Perhaps one of your students struggled with the material or was particularly excited about something you taught. Ask him what his family thought of his new knowledge or how comfortable he was with the homework assignment. The point is to personalize the greeting in such a way each student feels known.
- Watch out for the quiet children. It is often easy for them to be overlooked. Make a conscious effort to take the extra time to get to know the child who may not share personal things in front of the entire class. Make sure the outgoing students don’t get all of your attention, while the quiet ones slip in unnoticed.
I know this just seems like one more thing on your plate. You will be surprised though at how taking just the few extra minutes of effort will change the entire tone of your classroom. You may even find yourself slipping in to class ten minutes early to be ready for the best part of your day.
P.S. Some of you may be wondering why I didn’t mention hugs. Unfortunately, there are enough evil people in the world that some educational environments have had to ban teachers from giving students any type of physical touch. Sadly, kids are being denied the eight or more positive touches they need a day in order to be healthy. Talk with the director of your program to find out if hugs, pats on the back, etc. are allowed. If hugs are allowed or encouraged, by all means give your students a quick friendly hug as part of your greeting.