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The Missing Piece

Updated: Sep 21, 2020

Science tells us that students perform better when they like their

teacher. How likable are you?

As teachers we are playing a proverbial game of Perfection trying to get each individual piece of educational content into the cube of each unique learner. We spend hours planning how we can maximize our content so that it fits perfectly into the unique shapes of our students. As teachers we are constantly reminded that each moment in the day is sacred with not a minute to waste or the timer goes off, the board jumps up and you have to start all over again. It seems as though e-learning has sped up the game we had once mastered as we know the attention span of students is even more limited.

As you may remember, the game of Perfection is nerve wracking at best which drives the player to spend more time preparing to successfully win the game. It is a game that requires knowledge, skills, patience, and lots of practice. As teachers we put in the time in our planning and preparing and although it can be nerve wracking, our efforts usually result in a feeling of success for our students. I would like to offer a life hack for the game of educational perfection, likability. Science tells us that students who like their teachers are more available for learning. Would you spend five minutes connecting if you knew that students were more likely to grasp the concepts you’re teaching? You may be familiar with the Trust Equation that was presented by David Maister in his book The Trusted Advisor. I present to you the Likeability Equation. Although based on David Maister’s Trust equation, we’ve changed a few words because trust most often equates to likability in the eyes of a student.

Let me break down each component of likability for you. Use a lens of self awareness as you read over each component so that you can reflect on which area to focus on .

  • Credibility (Words) - Content expertise, credentials, degrees, what others say about you.

  • Reliability (Actions) - Doing what you say your going to do, being consistent, people know what to expect from you

  • Vulnerability (Emotions) - Your ability to connect with others, to share a bit behind the curtain, being real and honest

  • Self-orientation (Motives) - Being oriented towards yourself instead of others focused. How much you talk about yourself.

At Happy YOUniversity we are the queens of action. We wouldn’t be doing our jobs if we didn’t have suggestions for you on how to be more likable and connect to your students.

Mindset: Set the intention to connect with your students. This might look like setting a specific intention to connect with a certain number of students each day or week.

FFM: Use the First Five Minutes of each class to be available and open to connecting. Greet your students by name, check in and engage your students in casual conversation.

Get Interested: Take an interest in what your students are engaged in. Gaming, tick tock, pro sports or the most recent netflix series. How can we expect our students to pay attention to what you love if you don't pay attention to what they love?

Share: Tell stories about your dog, garden or your grandfather. Share about a great adventure you went on or how excited you are for your brownie at lunch. Find stories to share that let the students know what is important to you.

Be Human: Let them know you are not a robot. Don't be Eeyore. When things are hard like Covid hard, it's ok to let them know you are all in this together.

Connect: Find something to connect to in each student. You both like Italian food, Star Wars movies, the NFL or country music By seeing, hearing your student you let them know you are interested in them.

See the good: Take the time to write a note on a graded paper to acknowledge a strength you see in them.

You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you. -Dale Carnegie

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