Do You Know Enough About Me to Teach Me? A Student’s Perspective by Stephen G. Peters


  • For Vanessa, school was social ground, like the mall. Her favorite teacher made learning fun, but didn’t take stuff from anybody. She exposed us to stuff before she tried to teach it. She also wanted us to make something of ourselves. She made me safe. If only schools where full of teachers like her and free of bullies. Another favorite teacher called my mom and told her good things about me. The best classes are the ones where the students like the teachers so they don’t have to spend a lot of time with discipline. Teachers need to respect their students, be well prepared, and have high expectations. (Doug: This is key for all educators and parents.)


  • Tyrone is a basketball star and enjoys the social aspect of school. He works hard enough to stay eligible during basketball season, but then his grades drop. He thinks some teachers are cool while others are stuck in a time capsule. His favorite teacher is always prepared, treats him special, and never sends students to the office. It also means a lot when teachers attend games. He likes teachers who display student work all over and who don’t miss any days. It’s also good to have some chill time in class. It’s too bad some students are afraid to say something in class for fear of looking dumb.

Deposits and Withdrawals

  • Stephen cites Stephen Covey’s 1989 work on relationship building that uses this metaphor. To make a relationship deposit you can seek to understand, keep promises, being kind and courteous, being loyal, apologize, be open, and offer clear expectations. Withdrawals are essentially the opposite behaviors. An example of a deposit is volunteering at the school dance where you can build relationships that will help in the classroom. Stephen also suggests that when you ask a student to follow a school rule, you do so in a polite and respectful way using please and thank you.

Waiting for Their Next Audition

  • Increasing influences from television and other media along with higher poverty rates and single parent homes have changed the way students think from the era when many of the teachers were in school. Students face many pressures like having to wear the right clothes that they may not be able to afford. While Stephen doesn’t have all the answers, he is convinced that it will help if teachers deliver teaching and love as if they were dealing with their own children.
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