Despite the disbelief of most of my Year 7 students, I too attended high school. While it sometimes feels like eons ago, I still remember, and am inspired by, the remarkable connection that some of my of the teachers had with their students.
Before starting teaching this year, I spent time reflecting on the good teachers I had during my own schooling. I couldn’t help thinking of Mr Wiseman. His love and passion for sport helped him to connect with students, particularly during State of Origin time.
Mr Wiseman was one of those all-round ‘top blokes’. He could make a kid laugh, maintain order and discipline and enjoy friendly banter in the school playground.
One of my fond memories from Year 8 was when he and some other teachers organised a weekend excursion for students to see our local Raiders play his beloved Broncos. This was one of the first times I remember attending a footy game and I loved it, despite my team loosing to his northerners (similar to this weekend!)
Building strong and positive relationships with students is perhaps the most important part of teaching pedagogy, in my opinion. It’s not fool proof, but I’ve seen that getting to know your students well and showing them that you’re a real person too can help in the classroom. Particularly with those students who didn’t want to be there at the start of the year or still don’t now.
Sometimes you just need a little ‘in’ to help make that happen.
This year, I decided that I’d test if ‘showing your colours’ would help with building student rapport. While I am not the biggest sports fan in the world, I do enjoy watching or listening to a game on the weekend and have a scarf from each of my teams. While I got to know many of the kids teams in Term 1, I didn’t spend too much time telling them mine.
Term 2 in Canberra gets pretty chilly, so it was definitely time to break out those scarves. Every day I wear a different one from a team I support. Raiders, Brumbies, Swans and even the Washington Wizards (Bullets) from my time in the U.S.
I was surprised with the results. When wearing the scarves while on duty or walking to class, students would always come up and tell me my teams sucked… were awesome or something in between. We’d end up having some friendly banter about who’s team was better, higher on the ladder or had won more premierships or seasons recently.
Our school is a big one, over 750 students, and getting to know kids in the year groups I don’t teach is hard. At the end of Week 5 I can say that ‘showing my team colours’ in the school has helped to build relationships with dozens of students I would have never spoken to. I know many of the kids teams and I often end Fridays with some of the kids yelling ‘we’re gonna smash the Swans tomorrow, Sir’ or ‘carn the Raiders’.
It might not seem like much, but a love of sport runs through the veins of most Aussies, including our kids. While I love to sit and discuss my passion for art and culture with some of the kids who draw or paint at lunch time, it’s important to use the different parts of who you are engage with all students in the school.
Overall, I’m very glad to be following the lead of a teacher I had years ago and sharing my love of different sports teams with the kids. Cheers to Mr Wiseman for being a great teacher!