By Jeannine Belton Williams
The purpose of this article is to inspire, encourage and to challenge educators, parents and community members to continue to advocate for students to ensure their academic, social and personal success! We all embrace and understand that the fact that students are our greatest asset! As an educator who spent 15 years in higher education and the past 12 years in secondary education. I have seen a vast array of effective and ineffective academic interventions, programs, systems, processes, strategies, etc. that have worked successfully or failed miserably.
Nonetheless, I have seen first hand, throughout my professional career and as a parent that the following academic and social interventions produce long lasting positive effects in students in grades kindergarten to college. To my fellow colleagues, parents and community members who already employ these methods. I want to encourage you to keep using them and know that you are making a huge impact in the lives of students.
As we work with students we may not see the full impact of our efforts. But know that you are making a tremendous impact in their lives. We are all products of having a teacher, parent, neighbor, coach, sibling, etc. to provide us with positive encouragement or support along our journey. So don’t give up and continue to be a blessing! For those of you straddling the fence and wondering, if you have time to invest in a student’s life, I encourage you to a take a leap of faith and just do it! You will be richly blessed.
Strategies that make a lasting impact on students:
• Students don’t care about how much you know until they know how much you care! Students don’t see your title(s) they see you! So, work on building and sustaining positive professional relationships with students. Show love, compassion, respect and students will show you the upmost respect and view you as a positive role model.
• Students want to know that you are genuinely concern about their well-being and future. Students know a phony in a heartbeat. So tell them on a regular basis that you care about them and back this up with your actions. Sometimes you may have to show students you care about them by giving them with some tough love and by holding them accountable for their behavior. Keep in mind; it’s not what you say, but how you say it. The goal is to build them up and not kill their self-esteem, and confidence. You can be firm but not disrespectful.
• Set high expectations for students! Don’t lower your expectations. Students will strive to meet those expectations. It may take some students additional time, but they will eventually get there. In higher education, we use a student development philosophy called Challenge and Support. We will challenge students to reach greater heights while supporting them along the way.
• Take time to get to know your students, mentees, etc. Find out what they like, dislike, hobbies, dreams and aspirations, favorite subjects, passions, etc. Once you show a genuine interest in students. Students will trust you and will share more with you.
• Maintain the student’s confidentiality unless their safety is at risk. Students need to know you will safeguard the information they share with you. It is okay to ask the student, if you can share the information with a colleague or a friend who may be able to help them.
• Don’t make promises you don’t intend to keep. Students need to know they can trust you. There are unforeseen situations and circumstances that may come up unexpectantly which will prevent you from meeting with them. Explain this to the student and they will totally understand and reschedule with them.
• Role model appropriate behavior. Students are watching how you interact with them and others. The goal is for students to emulate positive behavior that will help them to become well rounded individuals.
• Have fun and enjoy your interactions with your students, mentees, etc. I have learned first hand from my own child. My child doesn’t care about the titles I hold or the work I do. She simply wants to know, do you love me and do you have time for me.
Jeannine N. Belton Williams is the CEO and founder of Jae-9's Educational Consulting. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org
This was printed in the April 17, 2016 - April 30, 2016 edition.