How to Lose a Student in Ten Ways

Try Too Hard to Identify With Their Pop Culture 

I know what you are thinking, "But we are supposed to identify with them!" Yes, and no. When there is something in pop culture that you truly enjoy, but all means incorporate it into your classroom. BUT if there is something that you barely know what it is, but you think it just might be cool with your students, don't touch it. 

Take your cues from your students. If they want to share something with you, embrace it and go with it. This also means, that you shouldn't take every little pop culture reference and turn it into a lesson. Instead be selective, it will be more meaningful. 

On top of this, be very careful with how you appropriate your students' cultures. Every culture should be celebrated for its unique qualities, not just how the mainstream interprets them.

Be Sarcastic

Sarcasm has no place with children in a classroom. Period. It is belittling and leads to misunderstandings. Just stop.

Don't Learn About Their Lives

Ask your students questions about their lives. Lots of questions. Let them know that you are invested in them as people, not just students. When you have a relationship with your students, you life is easier, and you will grow together.


Don't be wishy washy. Don't do it. Sometimes you are the only bit of consistency that your students have. Don't take that away from them. This does not mean that you can't change your mind, but it does mean that you may need to explain your reasoning from time to time.

Keep Them In Their Seats

Dr. Kagan said it best, all students want to move, talk with their peers, and have fun. Gone are the days of keeping students in their neat rows of seats all day long. Here are the days of cooperative learning, movement, and engagement. 

By using brain breaks and other kinesthetic activities students are getting more oxygen to their brain, and are therefor able to focus on their task. 

These dice simulations are a great way of getting students up out of their seats and moving around for an experience they won't forget. 


Repeat after me, FIRM BUT FAIR. One of the absolute worst feelings is when you feel like you are getting a raw deal. This is perpetuated when you don't have the maturity to see that not everyone needs the same things.

Am I saying that everyone gets the same things and treatment all the time? Absolutely not. I am saying that everyone gets what they need.

Be Clueless About How They Are Feeling

Our students come to us with a lot of emotional baggage. We need to be keen as to their feelings and life happenings. If Maslow's hierarchy items are not taken care of, then a student is working at a deficit. Take the time to get to know your students' emotional needs and situation. Ask simple questions such as if they ate breakfast, who is home with them, and how did you sleep last night. There is a wealth of knowledge and understanding in their answers. 

Don't Share About Yourself

Elementary students already think that teachers are some breed of alien that never leave the school. Open yourself up to them and share your passions. As a hobby I race cars. I share all about my hobby with my students and it forms an instant bond. I also tell me students a ton of stories about my cat and the silly things she does. 

Now this does not give carte blanche to use your students as a sounding board. Choose what you share carefully. You want to be a real person, but remember that they are kids. 

Be Cold

You are not a robot, don't act like one. When I first started my student teaching a teacher told me, "Don't smile until Thanksgiving." I thought that was ridiculous then, and I find it even more ridiculous now. 

Show emotion to your students. When you are happy smile, laugh, and spread your joy. When you are having a hard day or not feeling well share that too. Students need to know that it is alright to express emotions in healthy ways. They need you to model that for them. Even more, you need the ability to express how you feel. 

Give Commands

You catch more flies with honey than vinegar. I am not saying that you should merely propose ideas for student action, but you don't need to be a drill sergeant either. There are many, many happy mediums. 

I have always chosen to treat students as adults by using my "pleases and thank yous" when requesting they do something. I feel that this serves the purpose of showing them that I respect them, while also modeling appropriate manners.


When I first started teaching I was assigned the book How to Talk So Kids Can Learn, (affiliate link) and it was solely responsible for a complete mind shift on how I communicated with students. If you are having a tough time connecting with a student I would highly recommend it! 


  1. On the flip side, if you're totally sick of the song "Selfie" - turn it into a three day lesson plan. They will also be sick of the song and you will not hear the phrase and/or song repeated 100+ times a day anymore. ;) (That just *may* be a bit of experience talking...)
    ~Heather aka HoJo~

    1. Such a good point! I didn't think of it that way!


You Might Also Like...

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...