How do you earn a student’s trust so learning can start?

[View the story “140 Character Conversations: Dear Teacher, Dear Student,” on Storify]

140 Character Conversations: Dear Teacher, Dear Student,

On Twitter recently, I had a series of conversations between a fictional teacher and his/her student. They got such an incredible response, that I've taken those conversations and captured them here. Hope you allow these 140 character conversations cause you to start thinking.

Storified by Vicki Davis· Mon, Mar 25 2013 03:25:18

Launching a mini letter series on Twitter between a student and teacher. Stay tuned and add your own.Vicki Davis
If you decide to write a fictional series like this on Twitter, disclose it. Or others will think that you are writing something based on your classroom RIGHT NOW. Always be transparent.


 It took a while to learn these things, but teaching starts with a relationship between two people who care. They won't come to the classroom caring about you at all, so you have to start. But once you earn their trust, what you'll experience is a highly rewarding profession where you know you're making a difference.
Dear teacher, I want 2believe I'm special, but if u don't look me in the eye & don't call me by name, it's hard to.~ Your studentVicki Davis
Dear student,I get busy sometimes and forget you need to hear your name, but tomorrow I'll do better.Love, your teacherVicki Davis
No guilt, teacher. When you see something you're not doing right, start today. You can't live life in the rear view mirror.
Dear teacher,Calling me by name is a start, but how about knowing what I'm interested in learning more about?Know me to reach me.~StudentVicki Davis
Get to know the personal interests of students.
Student-I want to reach you. There are so many of you and just one of me. I'll do passion projects but you'll have to bring it.~TeacherVicki Davis
I've had a personal interest or 20% time project in my classroom since last year. Last year was fantastic. If you want to see what we did, you can look at our wiki.
Dear student, I will love you even when you don't love yourself. I won't give up on you, so don't give up on me. Love, your teacherVicki Davis
Teacher-You mean I can pursue my passions? Can passion and learning really happen at the same time. I'm not sure if I believe you.~StudentVicki Davis
Student-We have a lot to cover in my class, but yes, you can bring your passions. Let's make learning fun together. OK?~TeacherVicki Davis
Oddly, some students want me to tell them what to do for their “passion project.” We don't settle on a project until I see the sparkle in their eyes. I track all of these projects and activities on the free workflow program, Trello.
Teacher- I know you have lots to cover but sometimes you move on when I don't get what you've just done! Why can't it be personal?~StudentVicki Davis
Student-I know I'm moving too fast sometimes but I don't have the flexibility I used to have to slow down. It upsets me.~TeacherVicki Davis
WARNING: If you don't personalized learning in a face to face environment, someone will find a way less expensive to do it online. We must be personalized learning professionals. You know how sick you are of hearing 21st-century. Just wait, personalized learning is about to be a new buzzword.
Teacher-I had a hard night last night. Mom and Dad were fighting again. So hard to think about Algebra when I'm so confused.~StudentVicki Davis
Student-I looked in your eyes today & knew something was wrong. I let you sleep & got in trouble when my admin came in. Worth it.~TeacherVicki Davis
This one tweet about letting students sleep had more response than any other part of this story. I thought it would be telling to include a few of those responses here.
@coolcatteacher I've done the the same thing. We never know what happens when a child is not with us. We teach children 1st, content 2nd.Kelly Gibson
@coolcatteacher this one resonates with me ;) #LetThemSleep sometimes you just know they need itDawn G.
@coolcatteacher @ydmason That has totally happened to me. And I’d do it again.Michael Gier
@coolcatteacher love it. But necessary sometimes, right? Been done with the little ones, too.Elizabeth Goold
@coolcatteacher been there too, it's always the right choiceLydia Kirkman

The Breakthrough: Trust leads to Honesty Dialog about Learning

Now. Finally, the time has come. When they finally know you care and trust you, they will let you teach them. It does happen. For some kids it takes a few weeks but most, for me, it takes several months.
Teacher-Every day you ask about me &call me by name. I might believe that you care. BTW I need help on an Algebra problem.-StudentVicki Davis
Student-I love you. I'm happy to help you after school. I'll keep working to earn your trust. You're worth it.~TeacherVicki Davis
Teacher-You might think I'm worth it, but I'm wondering if Algebra is worth it. How am I going to use this anyway? Frustrated. ~StudentVicki Davis
At some point, if students are honest, they will question the importance of your subject. Even if they like you, this point is critical because you need to take the chance to demonstrate the real-world importance of what you're teaching. You'll hear them say it and you have to take time to cover this. The drawback of scripting, is if you don't have an empowering admin, you can kill the love of learning right here. When students know it has real world applications AND that you love them AND that you'll help them learn – you're a triple threat teacher.
Student-Tomorrow we will do some real-world problems and you'll see that Algebra will help you with your life.~TeacherVicki Davis
Teacher-You care. I see that. Your class counts. I see that too. I don't see how I can learn this stuff. I really don't.~StudentVicki Davis
Now it happens. They know you care. They know the class is important. Now, they question themselves and if the effort is worth it. Don't give up, you're almost there. You're trained to do this! Show them you know your stuff and help them learn how to learn. You have to leave them with an ability to teach themselves because there are sorry teachers out there. They are lucky you're not one.
Student-I specialize in helping students learn. I'm trained in this. Let's figure out how you learn best together.~TeacherVicki Davis
Teacher-You mean, your job is to help me learn how to learn? Really? Don't you get paid the same whether I pass or not?~StudentVicki Davis
Student-I'm here because I love my students &I love teaching. That is the only reason anyone would stay in this job. It is tough.~TeacherVicki Davis
Teacher-I wish there were more like you, sometimes I think teachers just want to get rid of me. My parents do too. Makes me sad.~StudentVicki Davis
It often comes back to kids wondering if they matter. They want to feel important. They want to know they are here for a reason. Never forget the human side of what you're doing. You're not feeding data into a machine or shoveling food into a mouth. You are trying to help an organic, trembling brain learn something and it is a lot more complex. Truly, the human mind is the last frontier.
Student-You matter. The world needs you. I will remind you until you believe me. I hope this will bring you joy.~TeacherVicki Davis
Teacher-You have given my hope back to me. Because you love me and I know it, I'll learn from you. I can trust u with me.~StudentVicki Davis
Student-When you learn, you remind me why I teach & make the struggle worth it. Thanks for trusting me enough to learn from me.~TeacherVicki Davis

Heroic Teaching and honesty

Teacher-You are the one reason I want to come to school. I'm happy to walk in your classroom door. I'm safe. U r my hero.~StudentVicki Davis
When you have this opportunity, be careful. A lesser, more self-centered teacher would get prideful. Pride and arrogance will kill the relationship and your potential for other relationships with students. I take these comments and put them in an “at a girl” file in evernote and treasure them when I have a bad day.
Student-Thanking me is the greatest gift you could give. If you only knew how insecure I am about whether it is all worth it.~TeacherVicki Davis
This is the second most responded to tweet. Teachers are insecure. Like buying a jewel with all you have, we are spending all we have – our lives – to educate children. Until you've been there, you don't know the joy and the self-doubt that comes from giving everything you have to kids.
Teacher-I struggle with wondering if school stuff is worth it too, but I believe you when you say it is. Believe that I need you.~StudentVicki Davis
Teacher, you are important. You are noble. You want the students to believe you when you say they are important. Believe them when they speak kindness to you. It is the least you can do.
Student-I look back on our relationship & see that learning only comes after trust & respect builds. You taught me something~TeacherVicki Davis
What 140 character letters would you add to this conversation?

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Vicki Davis

Vicki Davis

Vicki Davis is a full-time classroom teacher and IT Director in Georgia, USA. She is Mom of three, wife of one, and loves talking about the wise, transformational use of technology for teaching and doing good in the world. She hosts the 10 Minute Teacher Podcast which interviews teachers around the world about remarkable classroom practices to inspire and help teachers. Vicki focuses on what unites us -- a quest for truly remarkable life-changing teaching and learning. The goal of her work is to provide actionable, encouraging, relevant ideas for teachers that are grounded in the truth and shared with love. Vicki has been teaching since 2002 and blogging since 2005. Vicki has spoken around the world to inspire and help teachers reach their students. She is passionate about helping every child find purpose, passion, and meaning in life with a lifelong commitment to the joy and responsibility of learning. If you talk to Vicki for very long, she will encourage you to "Relate to Educate" or "innovate like a turtle" or to be "a remarkable teacher." She loves to talk to teachers who love their students and are trying to do their best. Twitter is her favorite place to share and she loves to make homemade sourdough bread and cinnamon rolls and enjoys running half marathons with her sisters. You can usually find her laughing with her students or digging into a book.

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