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10 Top Tips to being a Human Scale Teacher

Updated: Mar 8

Written by Robin Precey, Dan Jones and Jen Nuin Smith

Use these 10 top tips, whether you are new to teaching or experienced and want to become more Human Scale.

1. Understand Relationships

As a teacher, you interact with a very large number of people. Understand the concept of Emotional and Social Intelligence and how it applies to you. So, learn about the competencies required to know yourself, manage yourself, understand others and working with others. Learn, them, pay regard to them and monitor your own behaviour. Seek feedback form a trusted source – perhaps a colleague. As an educator, you need to model human relationships and this starts with knowing how to build relationships.

2. Focus on Building Relationship

  • Get to know your students. 

  • Ask questions about them, take a genuine interest, follow it up. 

  • Walk around at break - this is good if you are new to a school, it helps you become a familiar face and helps students to associate with you beyond the realm of your classroom. 

  • Say “hello” to everyone (as much as you can) - greet students and staff, even those you do not know yet. Modelling this friendly behaviour can be the first step to building a relationship. It is intrinsically human to want to be acknowledged. 

  • Invest in your colleagues - they are the people who you will be able to relate to the most in this profession, although it may not always seem that way. If you think you have just had a trainwreck of a lesson, someone in that staff room has probably had worse. If you are feeling overwhelmed, chances are, so are they. 

  • Treat each child and young person as fully human, respect who they are, their points of view, their rights and choices. 

  • Practice mutual respect in all the little ways, like saying “please” and “thankyou” and asking students for permission before doing things that affect them. 

  • Be positively supportive of neurodiversity, gender diversity, biodiversity, education diversity and the diversity of human experience. 

  • Bookend your days with check in and check out, hold safe spaces for circle time and reflective conversations. 

  • Create spaces where you can hear the quietest voices. Invite feedback and show that you act on it.

3. Be a Human Being as well as a Human Doing - Show Them You Are a Person

  • Let them get to see you as a person. 

  • Communicate honestly and openly and hold your personal boundaries in line with your values. 

  • Try to, appropriately, introduce aspects/interests of your out of school life into the classroom. This can spark endless interest and help the students to see you as a fellow human being. 

  • Model a loving and caring relationship to nature, through your day-to-day actions and decisions. Treat every life and day as precious, including every spider in the corner of the classroom and every wasp that flies through the window. Your students will notice how you relate to nature. 

  • Care for your environment and encourage others to do the same. Wherever possible, leave your environment better than you found it.  

  • Admit your mistakes and say sorry.

4. Know the Children's (and Adults') Names and Something Positive About Them

  • Contact parents - calls home are often appreciated and help you to form a bond with the family and not just the student. Positive calls for students who are likely to receive calls of the opposite nature are almost always especially appreciated. 

  • It's also good to explicitly call those 'mid-level' students who often go under the radar, they will appreciate being noticed. 

  • If a student has had an especially good or bad lesson, find them in a free period to let them know. This will make them feel special and cared for. 

  • Praise individualised characteristics not just academic but crucially qualities such as kindness, consideration, resilience and curiosity. Make a big deal of this by emphasising how important these values are.

 5. You Are an Educator, Not Just a Teacher

  • Raise awareness of the connections and hidden relationships between local, national and global ecosystems. Bring to light the impact that our actions have on others both locally and globally, now and in the future. Factor this awareness into decision making at every level. 

  • Join a club/sports team - this is a good way to spend quality time with students and again lets them see you in a new light. Even students who are not involved in that club will start to perceive you differently. 

6. Let Them Know You Are Learning

  • You are very busy. You are in the education business focused on learning. It is important that you keep learning. This may be a book you are reading, a podcast you are listening, on-line, adult education class, a new skill or even for an academic qualification. This may seem pie in the sky, but if we as educators and we stop learning, then we will be less effective. 

  • It is good that your students know what you are learning, how you are learning and what is working well and what may be a struggle. This may help your students understand metacognition (learning about learning) - an important aspect for them to become lifelong learners – an essential part of their future. 

7. Love the Children, Even If You Don't Love What They Are Doing

Be positive - although it is not always easy, greeting students with smiles at the door and asking how they are is simple yet profound. 

Students tend to look up to adults and by letting them know that you see the good in them even if they have messed up will help. A human scale teacher displays unconditional love for their students – tough love. 

8. Take an Overview - Tread Lightly as You Will Have an Immeasurably Large Impact on Those in Your Care

  • Schooling is a tiny part of a person’s life. Those children will become adults and may live to be over 100 years old. Who knows how they may earn their living if they need to? Their time at school is tiny but hugely significant. You job is to maximise the positive for each child and minimise the negative as they learn lessons for life. The greatest gifts you can provide are:

  • a love for learning and 

  • the tools to continue learning throughout their lives. 

  • Remind yourself of the context to the very important contribution that you make to their lives.

9. Taste the Coffee – Celebrate Your Good Moments

  • Focus as much as you can on the tail winds as much as or more that the headwinds. We end to dwell on our frustrations and perceived failures. But much of what you do is fantastic- good for them and good got you as a dedicated educator.

  • Set aside a time that suits you to reflect (and record) the positive events, no matter how small those micro-episodes may be.  Keep a logbook of those “magic moments”.

  • Laugh and play often. 

10. Join and Get Involved with HSE

This will support you in your journey to become a Human Scale teacher.

Become a Member Here!

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