Two Words: “What’s Up?”

“Hey, you’re not quite yourself today… what’s up?”

I have learned more from my students by asking this one simple question this year than any other. Family and friend issues, fears and anxiety, hunger and stress… it all comes out if you just remember to notice. Our students experience so much more in their lives than what we see at school; however, we do see them for a significant chunk of their day. Shouldn’t we be able to tell when something’s up? If we’re not willing to notice and listen, will they ever truly enjoy learning?

I recently attended ConnectEd Canada and finally had the pleasure of hearing Joe Bower speak in person. He explained that too often, we talk too much and we forget to listen. We try to fix problems rather than waiting to find out if our students even need our help. We ignore other problems that mean a lot to our students in favour of using class time for “important things.” How does this affect our relationships with our students?

I think not taking the time to notice what’s going on in their lives is the worst thing we can do to our students. Relationships are the foundation of what we do and how students learn. As Rita Pierson says in the video below, “kids don’t learn from people they don’t like.” Every child is someone’s little boy or girl but it’s our job to make them all feel as though they are our children as well.

When is the last time you asked “what’s up?” How did this impact your relationship with your students?


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