Blog4 ways to influence the lives of students
I could say, without fear of being wrong, that one of the greatest wishes of any educator is to influence their students. We want to influence our students so they find what they are passionate about, we want to influence them to enjoy learning, we want to influence them to be critical thinkers.
In my specific case, I would like to influence them to be people of integrity, people who choose to do the right thing regardless of the circumstances, young people who shine in the dark, who want to follow Jesus and understand that He should be the priority in their lives. But how can we do it? How can we influence the life of a teenager? It’s all about relationships!
The biggest obstacle to reaching this goal is that we have our priorities out of order.
We care about their participation in class, we focus on their understanding of the subject matter, we pressure them to turn in the work, we want them to pass the course instead of worrying about being with them when they are going through difficult times or when they are celebrating moments of joy. Influence comes when teachers love their students and build relationships with them.
“Our students are much more likely to remember what we say to them as we walk alongside them than when we stand in front of them.” Duffy Robbins
There are 4 things that have worked for me as a teacher to connect with my students and therefore influence their lives:
taking time to listen to our students gives us the key to their hearts. When we are willing to meet with them when we know what their favorite movie is when we are aware of the problems they are going through when we take the time to answer their questions when we laugh at their jokes, when we share their dreams, when we get involved in their projects or when we cry with them opens the opportunity to teach them what we want to teach them because we earn the right to be heard.
2- Do not judge:
we all make mistakes, from the youngest to the oldest. We, adults, make mistakes all the time! Before judging, before correcting, before jumping to conclusions we must give our students the benefit of the doubt. Between action and our reaction, there are a few seconds, we can choose what we put in that period of time: judgment or mercy. The decision we make can completely change our answer. If we act with mercy we reach out to the hearts of our students and earn their trust.
3- Be available:
this point is more difficult because many times it involves the sacrifice of others.
I have decided to be available to my students. I choose to make my free time at school, breaks, lunches available to them; I choose to allow them to call me when they need to; I choose to lend them my house if they need it; I choose to take them out for a walk or make them dinner; I choose to have a coffee or breakfast with those who want it after an event. It is in those moments, outside of the daily routine, where they can share more intimately and I have the possibility of helping them, advising them, praying for them, and showing them the way. I have never experienced anything more rewarding than being able to advise a student when he/she needs it.
4- Do not expect to be all-inclusive:
it is impossible to have an intimate relationship with each of your students in each class. Young people and children will naturally feel comfortable and identified with some of their teachers and our task is to provide those students who are looking for us with what they need. We should not feel threatened because we have more chemistry with some students than with others; it is normal. Some will feel better approaching younger teachers, others more outgoing teachers, others may prefer more athletic, or more artistic, others more spiritual. We are a team and we must work together.
To be able to influence the lives of our students we don’t need to act like teenagers, they already have friends their age. Nor should we try to be their parents, they already have parents. We really need to love them with all our hearts.
1 Thessalonians 2: 8 “We loved you so much that we shared with you not only God’s Good News but our own lives, too.”
Andrea Ortiz is a Core Values teacher,
Lighthouse International School.
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