Four Ways to Uplift Your Students in a Classroom


Khaled (Kyle) Ahmed, educator and client relations specialist, has been involved in teaching and customer service and shifting between them since 2012. Teaching experiences include ESL, soft skills coaching, and accounting. He taught in 3 different countries Egypt, Emirates, and China, which gave him a better understanding of the concept of education. Currently, he is a member of ClassIn's marketing team.

 

Dr. Rita Pierson, a professional educator of over 40 years, is best known for her inspiring TED talk that Every Kid Needs a Champion. Once a student, I was fortunate enough to have a teacher who rooted for me. In turn, taking on the role of an educator, I upheld four rules of “pressure and privilege” to be that champion for every child in my classroom.


Kyle's interactive activities for English lessons on ClassIn

The Importance of Cheering on Your Students


My firm belief in being a student champion finds roots in my journey of learning English. “I hate English” was the sentence I uttered after gathering all my courage in front of my teacher and classmates in 3rd grade. Distinguishing “P” sound and “B” sound can be challenging for native Arabic speakers, and growing up with Asperger’s syndrome, I had a hard time grasping English pronunciations because they lacked fixed patterns.

Kid exhausted from the pressure in learning

However, without skipping a beat, my teacher replied in her calmest voice: “Well English doesn’t hate you so, you get to try again later”. My teacher didn’t stop at the words of encouragement. She insisted on making me read on every occasion and even nominated me for reading clubs or English language competitions.


I always thought she enjoyed seeing me suffer until one day I heard her brag about my progress to another teacher with pride and sincerity. That made me immediately feel something other than pressure – for the first time in my life, I felt “privileged” as a student. And since that day, English became my passion. Two decades later, I speak it fluently, majored in it, and now I teach it to others.


Turning Pressure into Privileges: Four Ways to Become a Student Champion


Education is a force, and like any other force, it can either put you down or raise you up. Teachers are the sole controller of the direction of that force called knowledge. They can drop it on students like Thor’s hammer or gift it like Hercules’s Pegasus. Not to burden our already exhausted and underpaid teachers, I have summarized how I uplift my students in four easy-to-follow ways.


Teachers are the sole controller of the direction of that force called knowledge. They can drop it on students like Thor’s hammer or gift it like Hercules’s Pegasus.

Let’s go through some of these pressure elements and how to make them better for the little ones.


1) The pressure of participation: Students will always dread the moment their teacher picks them to answer or read.

The privilege of participation: Use games, random picks, and even competitions to make in-class participation entertaining and desirable.


2) The pressure of being right: Everyone is always afraid of making mistakes, and students are growing up to become stubborn and closed-minded because they fear being wrong.

The privilege of being wrong and learning: Never mock a student who makes a mistake or glorify one who always gets it right. Life doesn’t reward people who are always right but people who aren’t afraid to break and fix.


Kyle demonstrating his hidden trivia question activity for math classes on ClassIn

3) The pressure of not being liked: Most children go through phases where they’re concerned with how they’re perceived, and peer pressure is already serving them enough problems. Liking and disliking from an authority figure like a teacher will only make matters worse.

The privilege of being equal: Always be consistent in how you treat every student in your class. That doesn’t mean no reward or discipline, but it means don’t make it personal. They all need you equally.


Kyle interacting with kids in his class on ClassIn

4) The pressure of confusion: Students’ knowledge and attention span are not the same as yours. If you don’t control the terminologies and rhythm you’re using to teach, you will for sure cause confusion and distance with your students. Frustration will be the only thing you get this way.

The privilege of being impeccable: Speaking in simpler terms might not make you sound smart, but it will make for easier communication. Additionally, it will boost your students’ confidence and give you a smooth teaching process.


Just the other day when my students were doing a task in our online class, one of them complained that she didn’t get it. And I found myself speaking in the same calm manner as my 3rd grade teacher did, telling her it was okay and helped her try again. The pressure I felt was once again turned into a privilege, but this time, I experienced it as a teacher. I hope every teacher in the world, including myself, can find the patience and strength to help the students we once were.


I hope every teacher in the world, including myself, can find the patience and strength to help the students we once were.

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