Classroom Management

Love is a Battlefield: Building Relationships with Your Students

Love is a battlefield
If “love Is a battlefield”, then the classroom is a tennis court! Cue Pat Benatar. We love our students, but not all of them the same—let’s just face it. That wouldn’t be fair to them; think about equality vs. equity. Love, of course, is shown in oh so many forms: romantic love, family love, pet love, good deeds; the ways that love is shown is simply endless. “Love” in our classrooms can look different too. Think about the ways that you were shown love as a student (way back when!)
Sweet Sugar
Did your teacher give you candy or sweets all of the time? Wait! Screech! Halt! That’s not love! A teacher shows a student love by respecting them, listening to them, and valuing their contributions to the classroom. Sometimes it’s easier to love certain students, but all of our students have been entrusted to us, and they all need love. YES! All of them…every day! Think about how you can show your students this without promoting sugar. Did you know that studies show how addictive sugar is anyway? So promoting this makes kids crave sugar even more. Give them some “sugar”, as we say here in the South, by providing stickers, positive comments, and positive praise.
Russel Barkley stated: “The children who need love the most will always ask for it in the most unloving ways.” Children crave rules and structure, whether it appears that way or not. They also crave attention (and love), and communicate their needs the best way that they know how. Babies cry when they need something; they’ve learned that parents will “investigate”, and tend to their needs. Students may call out, scream, curse, when they need something; they’ve learned that their teachers will “investigate”, and tend to their needs. A classroom is not a battlefield, like love might be, according to Pat, but it is a tennis court.
Newer teachers, in very challenging situations may compare their classrooms to a battlefield, and even novice teachers may feel that way at times. I would rather have a tennis match going on in my classroom instead of a war. Wouldn’t you? Let’s serve! When a student “shows out”, they are testing their boundaries, testing procedures, and determining if they can “score” on you, or get you to miss on the serve, resulting in them earning a point. You’re left with….love. This is a value of zero is tennis. Each time a student misbehaves, think of it as a tennis racquet hitting the ball over the net. You have an opportunity to run to the ball and hit it, hit and miss, or ignore it. Likewise, you have this opportunity with their behavior. Play the Game!
Your students want to play this game with you; play! Address their needs, and validate their concerns. “I understand that you’re uncomfortable; would moving your seat away from him help?” “I would feel frustrated too; I get it.” How can we solve this together?” These are ways to “hit the ball over the net”and still allow for a friendly game (of “tennis”) to continue. If you choose to not run across the court, and let the ball go out of bounds, then you’ve missed an opportunity to further develop your relationship with that student. By the end of the year, you can meet your students at “the net”, shake hands, and be confident that you’ve all played a successful match!

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