The Substitute Teacher Guide to Relationships
Taking the time to establish a relationship with a child has its own special rewards. Making a difference in a child’s life, even if it’s only for a single day, matters.
Sadly, there are some substitute teachers who feel that building relationships with their students just isn’t worth the effort. “After all,” they argue, “I’m there for just one day and then I leave. My job is to keep the class under control and present the teaching materials. That’s it.”
I disagree! As a sub, you have the unique opportunity to foster meaningful relationships with children. Because you’re not there each day, every child in the class has an opportunity for a fresh start with you. Kind words of encouragement and a warm smile can do wonders for a child who may not get enough attention from the regular classroom teacher.
Relationships do matter, and they’re always worth the effort. In this chapter, we’ll discuss relationships with your students, your teaching colleagues, and other members of the school community.
Is it Possible to Build a Relationship in a Single Day?
I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase random acts of kindness. Someone you don’t know and will likely never see again does something to help you or encourage you or support you in a time of need. You may not remember the person’s name or even what he or she looked like, but you will remember the act of kindness, possibly for your entire life.
In a way, a single act of kindness establishes a bond—a relationship—between two people. When you interact with the children in your classrooms, remember that an act of kindness establishes a bond with each of them. The teacher-student interaction may take less than a minute, but a relationship has been established. Build on it.
There’s something else you should remember about relationships with students. If you take the time to establish, cultivate, and build on them, there’s a direct pragmatic benefit for you. Building these bonds will serve you well for the next time that you will be subbing in a particular school. Students talk about subs, and if you have a good reputation with the students, you will command greater respect. The bottom line: establishing and cultivating student relationships will make your job easier. And that’s always a good thing.
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