One of the things they don’t teach us in education courses is how important it is to treat students with compassion. Yet, this is one of the most significant hallmarks of a great teacher—someone who is able to see the spark of goodness and capability in even the most challenging student. Here is a quick list of thirty-three simple ways that we can treat our students with the compassion and care that will make a positive difference in their lives.
1. Smile at your students. Make a point of being glad to see them.
2. At the end of class, take the time to speak to them as they leave. Quickly tell them what they did well during class as they leave to guarantee a positive attitude about class and about themselves.
3. Show that you value and celebrate the diversity in your classroom and encourage your students to do the same.
4. Arrange a plan for students who are missing work to turn it in late. Being generous with accepting late work is one of the most positive actions a teacher can choose to take.
5. Make it easy for students who have missed class to get caught up. Have their handouts ready for a quick pick up and assign a classmate to fill them in on what happened while they were out.
6. Pay attention when your students talk to you. Really listen to all of your students without interrupting. Encourage them to share their ideas and opinions.
7. Maintain a birthday calendar for your students. Celebrate birthdays with birthday messages on the board. You don’t have to throw parties, but an acknowledgement of a special day goes a long way to making a child feel important.
8. If your students play a sport, participate in an after-school event, or perform in a concert, go and watch them to show your appreciation for their hard work.
9. Use good manners when you deal with your students and insist that they do the same.
10. When students confide in you, follow up. For example, if students have told you that they were worried about a test in another class, take the time to ask about how they did.
11. Make it very clear to your students that their dreams are important that you want to help them achieve those dreams.
12. Differentiate instruction whenever you can so that students can learn in a way that best fits their learning styles.
13. Have extra textbooks on hand or create a shared materials area where students who need pencils or paper can quickly borrow some without embarrassment or a hassle.
14. Ask about students’ families or others who play a significant role in their lives. If you know someone is ill, show your concern.
15. Speak to every student each day. Leave no one out of class discussions.
16. Teach students to be courteous to each other.
17. Write notes to your students. Use plenty of stickers and write positive comments on their papers.
18. Write more positive comments on your students’ papers than negative ones. If nothing else, change the color of ink that you use for the positive comments so that they are easy for students to find and read.
19. Pay attention to your students’ health. If students need to go to the clinic, send them. When students have to miss several days because of illness, call to see how they are doing, or send a get-well card. Be prompt in sending work to the student’s home if appropriate.
20. Be sensitive to the economic problems that your students and their families may face. Don’t embarrass a student by publicly asking about free or reduced lunch, for example.
21. Use this sentence to convey your concern: “What can I do to help you?”
22. Offer frequent progress reports so that students don’t need to feel uncertain about their grades.
23. Encourage kindness among your students. Notice and reinforce those acts of kindness that students show each other.
24. Talk with students when you notice a change in their behavior. For example, if a normally serious student is neglecting his or her work, find out why.
25. Pay attention to the needs that your students may be ashamed of such as a lack of food at home, no warm winter clothing, or a lack of school supplies. Contact the personnel at your school who can best help your students with these needs.
26. Help students connect to each other so that they can have a support system to help them navigate school life.
27. When a new student appears, help that student by assigning school buddies or class partners. You can also ask students to write quick bits of advice or welcome notes.
28. Educate yourself about the agencies that can offer assistance and support to the various student populations in your school. Refer students who need help when it’s appropriate.
29. Ask your students for feedback whenever you can. It makes anyone feel valued and included when their opinions are sought.
30. Spend time encouraging your students to succeed. Praise and encouragement are effective antidotes to some of the biggest problems that many students face.
31. Help your students save face when they have made an embarrassing mistake. Helping a student avoid embarrassment in front of peers is one of the kindest acts any teacher can perform.
32. Assign the groups and arrange the seats in your class so that the students who may be left out can be comfortably included.
33. Treat your students as you would have wanted to be treated as a student.