Dr. Travis Bradberry, an emotional intelligence guru, recently published an article on LinkedIn and CNBC detailing 10 ‘mind tricks’ that are useful in getting others to like you.
As teachers, we want our students to like us. More importantly, we want our students to respect us, listen to us, and learn from us. Teachers can use these ‘mind tricks’ to help build rapport with our students, build our relationships with them, create a positive classroom culture, assist them in developing relationships with each other, and help them learn.
1. Laughter Gives You Clues
Did you know? It is a natural reaction to make eye contact with the people you feel closest too when laughing in a group. This information can give teachers insight into who is getting along well in the classroom, how comfortable students feel with their peers and their own relationship with students. Try putting students into a variety of groups and doing some fun, laughter inducing activities. Then, sit back and watch the dynamics of the class come to life.
2. Helping Others Makes Them Like You
When someone does you a favor, it makes them like you more. By justifying our willingness to help others, we talk ourselves into liking the recipient of our help. So, have students help you out or give aid to a student they don’t like or with whom they don’t get along. You may find fewer disagreements in a classroom where students regularly serve each other.
3. Wait time:
When students participate and are involved in class, they learn more. All teachers know this, but sometimes it’s easy to get carried away with explanations and stories illustrating your point. The best thing to get someone to speak? Silence. If you can stand the quiet, your students will feel the need to fill the silence and start speaking up more.
4. Open Palms
Gesturing with open palms is more friendly and welcoming than pointing. When your student asks where something is, use an open palm to gesture rather than pointing. You may feel like Vanna White, but pointing is directive and can be rude.
5. Nod your head
When giving your students new information, or trying to convince them of your side of an argument, nodding your head will increase the chances that they will agree with you. People naturally mirror others, so, if you are lucky, they will nod along and agree with you in no time.
6. You remember what you…
Think about when you hear a catchy tune, but it doesn’t finish? Naturally, your brain wants to finish the tune, whether it is that last line of a song or an unfinished sentence. Skilled teachers use to scaffold their students’ learning. Teachers often provide sentence frames, close readings, and other ‘missing info’ activities to help students learn. As a bonus, using this strategy can ‘lead’ the student into the same line of thinking.
7. Chew gum in school?
While chewing gum may be taboo in many schools, it can help students relax, making them more receptive to new information and helping them navigate (or avoid conflict more easily.) If you are in a school where chewing gum is banned, take heart, teachers can chew it. When you are calmer, your whole class benefits. When your students cry that it isn’t fair that you get to chew gum in school while they don’t, just tell them that if they go to college, they too can chew gum in school.
8. Feet: Windows to the Soul?
While eyes are the windows to the soul, in this case, it might be your feet. If someone has their feet facing you, they are interested in what you have to say. If they are facing away, they aren’t interested. The same goes for crossing your legs. Imagine a therapist with an angry couple on his couch; their arms folded, their legs crossed away from each other. While you aren’t doing marriage therapy, you may feel like a therapist. Read your student’s body language to know where you, or anyone really, stand in their eyes.
9. When you meet someone new, use their name in conversation, so you remember it.
This is an obstacle all teachers face each fall as school begins. Teachers must learn anywhere from 25-200 new names in the first few weeks of school. Knowing a student’s name is the fastest, most surefire way to help that student feel loved and appreciated and well recognized by his or her teacher. While you likely won’t have time to have a one-on-one conversation with each child in the early days of school, you can probably incorporate their names into activities and games. Going home and chatting all about your new students to your family and your very patient spouse can help you remember their names also (Jose is the little boy with the cute crew haircut, and Emily reminds me of your niece.)
10. Excitement is contagious
When you are excited to meet someone, and they will feel similarly towards you. As a teacher, you set the tone for your classroom. Are you dreading the year ahead? Find something to get excited about. Remember, human beings naturally mirror others emotions, so if you give off excitement, enthusiasm, and positivity, it is much more likely that your students will too.
As a teacher, you probably wish you could wave your magic wand and suddenly have your students hanging on your every word. While that may not be possible, you can still keep some tricks up your sleeve to build positive, meaningful relationships with your students and maybe, just maybe, a few of them will even like you (homework assignments and all).
Amy Curletto has been teaching for 12 years in grades K-2. She has a bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood and Elementary Education and also has endorsements in reading and ESL. Besides education, her other passion is writing and she has always dreamed of being a writer. She lives in Utah with her husband, her 3 daughters, and her miniature schnauzer. She enjoys reading, knitting, and camping.
The child who is ‘left behind’ most is the one who leaves school without transition readiness.