Isn't it funny how we sometimes forget that our students are people? You know instead of little monsters put on this earth to vex us. But it's true, students are people and as such the process of teaching them is a complex one, because let's be honest... when is working with other human beings ever easy and straightforward? That's a rhetorical question, just in case you were wrecking your brain trying to find an answer.
When a student comes to class there's so much that we don't see and that we don't know. Did they eat that morning? Did they sleep well, are they cared for and loved? How is their living situation? Hundreds of questions that we don't ask ourselves because honestly, who has the time? What we see is a student who is putting of disinterested vibes by laying their head on the table and ignoring us, what we don't see is the fact that the same student was up all night listening to their parents argue. So I think it's pretty safe to say that we should never make assumptions (you know the old addage right? Assuming makes an ass out of u and me)
But then how do we find out all these things about our students? How do we get to the nitty gritty of their life? And more importantly, is this something teachers should even attempt? Personally I think it's not our job to know everything about our students, when you teach 7 classes of about 30 students it's impossible knowing every detail about each seperate student and still you know... be able to eat, sleep and breath. I do think that it's important that we always try to talk to our students from an inquisitive and understanding point of view. Don't snap at them, don't roll your eyes if they, for the millionth time, haven't done what you've asked. Have a conversation with them, sit down with them and talk about what's going wrong. This won't automatically fix any problems but it might give you some insights as to what is causing them and hopefully better your understanding of their actions. It will also give the student an idea of who you are as a person and about the things you value.
In short you should try to create an atmosphere of mutual respect wherein you don't treat your students from an authoritive position but treat them as actual valuable human beings. The time of the absolute teacher is over, students don't need yet another person talking down to them, they don't like it and they are no longer accepting it (nor should they). So try talking with your students and try to form a connection based on mutual respect. Your students will walk 500 miles and 500 more (10 points if you get the song reference) if they just feel like you appreciate them even when things aren't going that well.
Now that's a nice sermon right? And to be fair I believe every word of that, but putting it into practice? Not as easy as writing about it, that's for sure. Because knowing the story behind a student doesn't always make it easier to accept their behavior. Sometimes I still wanna scream at them to man the fuck up and behave like a person instead of a creature of satan. Yet.... it really doesn't get you anywhere. So like everything this process of understanding, of patience and of respect is a difficult and slow one. Yet I think the goal is clear: we should stop assuming the worst of our students. We should realise that when we look at a student we are only seeing the tip of the iceberg while there is so much more going on below the surface. We have to accept that we won't be able to 'fix' our students and we have to learn how to work with what we've got. And this is not something we will always accomplish. Sometimes we will screw up, we'll l react from our emotion and we'll treat our student in a way we might regret at a later time. Which is sad and frustrating but not unforgivable, we are only human after all, and as long as we keep reflecting upon our own actions and keep looking for ways to better ourself and our understanding of our students we should be alright.