In September 2012, I presented a webinar, which gave simple ways to connect with students during the initial hours of a GED class. My colleagues and I discussed the importance of establishing a rapport with your students. We discussed the urgency of forming bonds early in the course, before doubt and life creeps in to the decision process.
In summarizing the webinar I wanted to give additional ways teachers can make the most of the first 36 hours of contact with their students. I wanted to reiterate the importance of peeling back the layers we ALL use in order to cope on a daily basis, whether we are students or teachers. I also wanted to give additional advise on keeping goals at the forefront each and everyday and how important it is to keep instruction relevant. Important aspects that are essential for your students to commit to your class and NOT leave again.
Without a doubt, the best take-away from the webinar and the most important lesson we can learn from The First 36 Hours is creating a dialog with student. One of the best books I have ever read was a book titled “How to Win Friends and Influence People.” I would implore teachers to read this book published over 76 years ago by Dale Carnegie. In it, Dale Carnegie talks about timeless ways to improve your relationships and expand your influence with others. Carnegie’s principles are more relevant today than ever before. The lost art of communication is among the baggage some students bring to our classes.
Before the Internet, texting, Skype, Twitter and Facebook, people needed to interact with real human beings. Interaction required looking into someone’s eyes, smiling, introducing yourself, and more importantly listening. These simple interactions were a way of life. Nowadays, it is not unusual to hear we have over 300 Facebook friends and don’t know the name of our next-door neighbor.
The best way to have your students persist in your GED classrooms is to “Get to know them.” The more ways you can make that personal connection, the more committed they will be.
Dr. Armando Gutierrez is an administrator in Miami-Dade County Public Schools. He currently spearheads a project to re-engage high school dropouts in a Career Pathways model.