High School Student
Will be the first in her family to go to college
Q: What do you have in common with your teachers?
A: I really couldn't think of anything off of the top of my head. This question took way longer than it should have.
My math tutor is a huge nerd, we talk about Game of Thrones all the time.
Then somehow I recommended a TV show on Netflix to my biology teacher, so I guess that's that.
All my teachers are female? Does that even count?
I think after I began developing a passion for education, I started relating to some teachers more because I can see their passion and how they care for students.
This is a really hard question.
Q: Does it matter that students and teachers have things in common?
A: Most parents from my ethnic background would say it doesn't matter. As long as the students learn the appropriate materials and are well prepared for standardized tests, it doesn't matter if the teacher is approachable or not.
But most students would agree it does matter. When the teacher cracks that one joke, references that one TV show or movie we like, I think we all suddenly become fond of them. We become willing to listen. I think we all learn better when we like the teacher. We grow to like the class, the the subject, then other subjects in that field. We become less scared to ask seemingly stupid questions, and we begin to learn at a much more productive pace.
I remember when I first moved to the US in third grade, I could barely speak any English. There was a counselor who spoke Chinese. I suddenly felt so much better, and just a little bit less lonely. And that made learning English and becoming part of the community that much easier.
BUT then again, we seem to be influenced by teachers that have no commonality with us. When I see my biology teacher ramble on and on about how amazing biology is, I get somewhat touched. And I start listening because the examples she gives us are so profound that it made a STEM class interesting.
When my usually strict algebra teacher told the class we could talk to her and push the homework due dates back if we wanted to priotize AP tests instead (she literally said "don't do your math homework. This is not important. AP tests are important"), I became somewhat touched. And I started listening to her lectures because I knew she is a good teacher, and she really cares.
So I guess what I'm trying to say is, similarities matter. It forms instant bonds between students and teachers. But even if we couldn't form that bond, students will evetually see a good teacher's passion, and grow to respect them, to open up to them.
I don't know though, respect is respect, but trust is another thing. It definitly helps if the person we're supposed to open up to has had similar experiences. We'll know they understand that way.
Photo (c) 2017 Kristin Leong
Humanizing the gaps separating teachers and students.