Winning the hearts of students

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Most of my teachers who have taught me during my younger days operate in an authoritative manner. Therefore, they place a lot more emphasis on having a strong commanding presence than really connecting with their students and engaging them in the lessons. While authoritative techniques work in the military, it is more effective if as educationists, we are able to work with our students by winning their hearts.

What is meant by the phrase “winning their hearts”? It means that we do not ask students to do this and do that. Instead, we should always provide a reason behind our actions. Authoritative educationists seldom do this.

Through reasoning, most students listen, because it is human nature for students to want to know why they should do as you said.  I will go to the extent of making the assertion that simple instructions such as “Please switch your handphone to silent mode while class is in session” should be explained, although the reason seems obvious enough.  We should always assume that all students do not understand why we are asking them to do what we want them to do.

I have tried this technique with my students and it works fine. Most educationists do not do this  because they consider matters within the context of classroom behavioural control and fear that they might lose control of the class. So, they use orders and instructions out of fear. It will be good to highlight here that fear should not be the factor to consider but respect.

I once have a class whereby a team of students has intended to present while sitting at their tables.  As this is towards the end of the semester, most of them feel that they are entitled to a bit of freedom in their style of presentation. This may seem rude to most educationists and I am sure that most of them will immediately instruct the students to present at the front of the class. However,  I have learnt from personal experiences that making assumptions within the first 30-45 seconds is a mistake.

Just to digress a little. I once have a little trouble with the projector while using the remote control panel in my class.  One of my more introverted students came forward and without a word, took the remote control from my hand without asking for permission and started fumbling with it. Instead of being offended by the action, I became curious, took a step back and observed his actions. Surprisingly, he pointed at the projector with the remote control after a while and got the projector running.  It turns out that my student is helping me! This is how a slight delay in your interpretation of unusual events can enable one to see the actual picture of what is happening.

Coming back to the topic, I remained silent and observed the students who are preparing to present at their table while seated. One of the team members saw me looking and immediately told his team mates to respect the facilitator by presenting properly. So, all of them got up and present in proper manner. This is a very good example of a fact that was mentioned in one of my previous posts that students often self-regulate when left to their own devices. More importantly, it shows educationists such as ourselves that when we accord the students with respect, they will – more often than not- return us the respect as well. Mutual respect rather than rigid instructions is the way to being a good educationist. With respect, you win their hearts. So, engage your students in the lessons through winning their hearts.

I believe this techniques work well with tertiary students, where their cognitive abilities are high and are mature enough to handle the situation. If you are a primary or secondary school teacher, you might need to complement your instructions with some enforcement. I have enforced rules and regulations at times too ( when the student is apathetic to reasoning), although this is never my preferred choice.

I believe that the technique of according somebody the respect he or she deserves and winning their hearts built strong rapport and this applies to all individuals, be it your students, colleagues or friends. In the same way that kindness begets kindness, I personally believe that respect begets respect as well.

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