Thursday, April 19, 2007

Rethinking Relationship

Be intentional about building relationships with students. The last thing a student wants is unsolicited advice or assistance from an adult who has never bothered to get to know them. Adult relationships typically evolve over a period of time and require quite a few conversations and shared experiences before there is a willingness to be vulnerable and open. Adolescents are somewhat different in this respect. It is possible to build fairly strong relationships in a relatively short period of time.

Get to know their hobbies, their interests, and the people with whom they spend time. Ask questions about their lives. Bring up a topic they enjoy discussing: themselves! Once they begin to trust you and understand that you are genuinely concerned about them as people, they will usually be willing to listen to advice you have to offer. It is easy to connect with students who are naturally outgoing and popular; challenge yourself by trying to engage those who are quiet, defensive, or intimidating. Those on the fringe desperately need you to be a part of their lives.

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