How do you feed your students?
Neila A. Connors has written a great book to help teachers develop, maintain, and sustain positive student relationships.
If You Don’t F.E.E.D. The Students They S.T.A.R.V.E. is one of those books so easy to pick up and read and reminds me of her other brilliant title If You Don’t Feed the Teachers They Eat the Students!: Guide to Success for Administrators and Teachers
Connors writes in a very easy to understand way and I really recommend delving into her work and tapping into her experience.
The F.E.E.D. part of the title refers to teachers who ‘Fuel, Engage and Empower Daily’ their students to ensure that they do not S.T.A.R.V.E. (Stop Trying And Reject Valuable Education).
Connors says every teacher must C’s the day (carpe diem – seize the day) through mixing 8Cs:
These Cs provide the essential ingredients for masterchef teachers to F.E.E.D. their students.
Here’s my take on what she says with a few quotes from Connors herself.
If teachers fail to connect with their students then learning is flat and full of frustrations because their motivation is low. Quite simply, teachers have an obligation to connect with every student and to find ways of getting them on board, enthused and fired up. Teachers have to tune in and find out what their personal likes are, what interests they have and what goals they are trying for. This comes about through talking to students and spending time with them.
When you connect with students, you show that you care, providing encouragement and support. Be an advocate for your students.
As the late and great Rita Pierson told us, every kid needs a champion.
Teachers have to be committed not just to themselves and students but to the whole school community and the profession. Those that are committed truly stand out as professionals not part-timers.
They develop a classroom environment that breathes motivation by focusing on the positive and creating an atmosphere of success. There is a commitment to high expectations and teaching students the correct way to succeed. They listen carefully, integrate learning, show how to succeed, and model a code of ethics.
Consistency is key and provides a solid infrastructure for learning. Clearly COVID-19 has put a spanner in the works and has disrupted everything.
The pandemic has shown that education is damaged by inconsistencies and that procedures, rituals, rules and expectations are the first to suffer. But where schools have been more effective than others, it is those that have had systems in place to keep things going and to provide as much consistency and normality as possible.
In a reliable five-star school, all the adults and the students in the building consistently recognise the systems and procedures and stand by them. Consistency is obtained through effective, ongoing, and positive communication.
Connors says that masterchef teachers give students choices in areas such as behaviour, academics, relationships, and how to be successful. They are given options in how to complete activities, consequences, and other aspects of daily school life and challenges are opportunities not obstacles.
Maya Angelou said, “I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better.” We must teach this to all members of the school community.
Connors argue that as teachers we need to strive for perseverance, positivity, purpose, and persistence. Why?
We want to create tenacious students ready to take on the world and become first-class citizens. To accomplish that feat, we must understand the attitudes and dispositions that the students bring to the classroom and work collaboratively to build learning environments, activities, and curriculums that include ALL students.
Collaboration has become a bit of a corporate buzzword but it is not an empty cliché because without teamwork it’s an uphill struggle. Silo working does have its place despite what some might say but working together with our colleagues helps us learn other techniques and strategies, and gives us all the best chance of finding what works for our students.
Collaboration helps us problem-solve, it brings us closer together, it opens up new channels of communication, it boosts morale, inspires trust and makes the school a stronger community.
The importance of strong communication runs deep within any organisation and it is the key to success in effective schools. By being joined up internally and having strong lines of communication, school teams invest in the corporate identity of the school and can manage challenges with a shared sense of responsibility. Teaching is, at its core, communication.
Students succeed when they learn how to recognise their self-worth. Connors says that we need to find time to celebrate and she recommends having an “L” of a day, every day, by:
- Living (a full and exciting life) to the fullest
- Learning (something new every day)
- Loving (yourself, your family/friends, and your professions)
- Laughing (EVERY day; a day without laughing is a day without sunshine)
Celebrate life and what you have been given. Life is short so enjoy each day to the fullest.
This is a book worth taking your time over and revisiting it’s content throughout the year.