Liking My Students: The Key to Success in the Classroom

by Mr. Sheehy

While reading Jim Thompson’s Positive Coaching for a professional development class (a fairly ironic pursuit considering that I am not a coach) I was struck by two statements that Thompson does not put next to each other.

First, a social worker would say to his new counselors, “It’s not your job to be liked by the kids. Your job is to like them” (86).

Second, Thompson’s own opening statement about giving individual teaching time to students: “Typically, people do not make the effort to teach something to someone they don’t care about” (102).

These little maxims have a lot of power when I look at them honestly and I consider how they challenge my own interactions with students. Teaching is messy business–it involves fallible people teaching other fallible people–and if I am willing to be honest, Thompson’s words suggest an area where I need great improvement.

The first and most primary goal for me as a teacher next year is a simple one: Love one another.

In many ways, that might be enough to do the trick.