Secrets of teaching: The personal relationship between you and each pupil

James Cooper

What they don’t tell you when you are training is the personal relationship between you and each pupil.

You could be the most knowledgeable teacher in the world but it doesn’t matter a jot if you don’t earn the attention of your classes.

The fundamentals of teaching a class are just like the psychology of communication when it comes to human to human interaction, the number of people you are interacting with or indeed their age does not matter as humans learn and need the same things to switch them onto the person interacting with them.

Here are some tips to enrich your engagement:

Eye Safety

When we are born the first thing a baby does is look for faces, it is one of our pre-programmed innate intelligence and the phrase ‘the eyes are a window to the soul’ is very true. The way it works is simple, our emotions and feelings are built around our eyes, not just our pupils but the eyebrows and our laughter lines are great storytellers. Whether we mean this or not it is hard to hide so tip one is to always be aware of how you feel and what you are conveying to your pupils as it can make or break your lessons.

Nonverbal communication

It is not just our eyes, 70% of how we communicate is nonverbal. You know when you go on a date or have a meeting and your friend asks ‘How was it?’
You reply ‘It was good but there is just something not quite right so I won’t pursue it’
We are instinctive creatures and have a lot of depth to our instincts for a very good reason, our instincts keep us safe and they also sniff out opportunity, weakness and danger. You want your classes to not just feel safe but also to feel engaged, watched and aware of your presence. To accomplish this you need to have awareness of your body language, to stand with open arms, to invite people in to contribute not push them away or make them fear responding to you.

Your Voice

Our tone of voice tells the truth even when our word does not. Being aware of how you say things is just as important as what you have to say. 50% of the world, like me, will be affected more by the tone you speak in that the words you say and 50% will take onboard the words you say more than how you say it. In the middle is the energy of your classroom, be aware of your tone and consider what makes you, you. As an example for me my tone tends to be friendly, helpful and assured and when I need to make a point or am frustrated then it will become more direct. The tip here is not to think you have to be super friendly and OTT positive all the time it’s more about being aware of your general tone and making sure your voice is not pulling down the quality of a great potential lesson.

Psychology teaches us all sorts of life skills, true life skills. One of the keys to succeeding as a teacher is how you take your pupils along the journey of learning which starts and ends with how much they are bought into you as a guide.

We help all our teachers – and those considering becoming one – with life planning, professional planning and making sure they aren’t the cause of holding themselves back!

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