Friday, December 06, 2013

Seeing your Students

Can “seeing” your students influence your relationship with them and their willingness to communicate? What does this question really mean? 

Let’s examine the following situation: You have created an eminently respectable lesson plan; it includes the requisite phases for pairwork, attention to textbook activities and grammar orientation, hands-on dynamics to practice the topic of the day, periodic white-board use, and appropriate technological inclusions. Your “flight check” for that last part resembles NASA pre-lift-off procedures as you punctiliously check CD tracks, PPT slides, computer connections, volume register…..all that is essential to take your lesson safely to its destination. 

Your concentration on your multiple responsibilities occupies your thoughts almost exclusively as you enter your classroom and attend to setting up what your students will experience for the next 150 minutes. Ah, yes…the students…. a gaggle of girls and a band of boys, all dragging roller bags and the paraphernalia of study and play…. assemble in noisy desks, a crowd with a collective identity. Who among them so you see and greet? Believe it or not, this could be a moment of potential significance – the fresh encounter, the time to reconnect and begin anew. 

TopkidsErika_LAS (1)There is one of two ways to envision this scenario: (a) The teacher is absorbed in class prep, back turned, the students gathering facelessly in their predictable arrangements, or (b) the teacher greets the students as they enter, acknowledging a new hairstyle, a happy face, a new pair of bizarrely bright orange running shoes…..If it can be managed, the time for the lesson and techno-check is when the classroom is empty, silent, awaiting the next round of action. The time for precious rejoining with your students is when they enter the environment you share; that is when you “see” them and rekindle the energy that fuels what you will experience together in those minutes that you hope will be memorable, that will make your students look forward to the days and weeks to come. 

Even with all your attention to your lesson plan, first and foremost, smile and look your students in the eye. This is the moment that could determine how far and how well your lesson will actually fly.     

Katy Cox


  1. I couldn´t agree more! Sometimes we spend hours planning a class and the result is not all that good. Other days, your plan is not really that good, but the class ends up being awesome. The energy, they way we connect with the students, makes all the difference. And everything begins with a good look in the eyes and a welcoming smile.

  2. It's always crucial to remember that we are in the classroom for the PEOPLE who are there with us. And there, as well as anywhere else in the world, people who feel truly valued and important have a much better performance.

  3. Those first minutes of class can't be underestimated...

  4. Eneida Coaracy10:52 PM

    Unfortunately, I've sometimes seen the scene you describe in this post hapeen in the classes I've observed. Eye contact and a welcoming smile can do wonders regarding attention getting and connecting to one's students. Good point!

  5. Thanks for the excellent blog post Katy. The first minutes of our classes have to effective!

  6. Sometimes it's all about making them feel special.

  7. Thanks for the post Katy Cox. It is really amazing how they act when they feel you care about them.


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