School | Pupils | Experiences
It was my very first day. I remember as clearly as water. I went to a class self-confident. Armed with lots of energizers and ice-breakers. I was pretty calm as I have been teaching students for several years now.
BUT, I didn’t know one thing : university students are different from school pupils. While students chose to be there, at your subject, pupils go to school independently from their own wish. Therefore it might be harder to manage those, who have NOT chosen being at your class.
In the beginning it was pretty challenging to engage everyone. Most of the pupils had language barriers and were shy. During the presentations they were seated quietly, as if they were listening really carefully. But, I have observed that they were listening, but were not able to understand what I was talking about. I had to re-adjust my language to theirs so that they could understand what I meant.
At first it was silent. No questions or comments after the presentations. Only silence and confused faces. I knew I had to do something to make them talk. I had to do almost a week research. I have used all the possible educational platforms. I have found lots of energizers. And finally! Some of them started working. Also, pupils started to get used to me. They were not feeling distanced or frightened. I had made several notes that I would like to share with everyone that might serve as an advice while working at school with lots of pupils:
- Start with a funny activity. With something that does NOT require language skills. Rules are clear and very simple. Something that requires some physical movement.
- Let them be free. As I have observed, they do like walking around the class / sit on the desks or on the floor. They instantly have the sense that these classes with you are not “normal”, or too “formal”. They start to feel free and become more talkative.
- Compliment whatever you like. But do not LIE about anything. Do not lie that you like someone’s handwriting if you do not. But if you DO, than it is your time to shine and praise – they will feel shy, but more confident about themselves. Also, in the most of the cases they start to like you. The power of compliments, my fellas;
- Talk after the classes. Most of the students are in hurry as soon as your class finishes : they have a test in Geography or presentation in Mathematics. So, most of the time they do NOT have time to talk even if they want. BUT, if your class is the last class and afterwards they go home, use the opportunity to find some common topics that you enjoy. I like individualistic approach as I do get pleasure while I’m in the process of knowing a person.
- Follow them on social media. Well, this is something that I have not done with my students, but with pupils I knew I had to. They are really into social media and following them gave me the idea about what kind of people they are in general : what they like, what they watch (maybe you have the same favorite TV show or a movie!).. On the SM they share things they WANT other people to see. So, this is your opportunity to find something to connect with them.
- Be empathetic and tolerant. There are lots of representatives of LGBTQI+ community even if it is not visible. Also, lots of atheists or even believers. Some of them have sexist approach towards some topics and some of them are homophobic or even racist. It is important that you detect everything, study your environment. Try to make homophobia, sexism, ageism, racism and etc. disappear. If you observe that there is an issue with a particular topic, you can make a workshop about it.
Well, there are even more in my list, but everyone’s experience is different. Try to find your own path by listening, observing and constant researching. You can make great friendships and connections with amazing people.