Testimonial: The importance of the teacher-student relationship and how to get through the crisis

François Pichette, secondary school math, science & technology teacher, shares his thoughts on maintaining a bond with his students during distance learning periods.

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By François Pichette, math, science & technology teacher at the Académie Sainte-Marie (CSS des Premieres-Seigneuries)

Over the years, I have noticed on several occasions that having a healthy teacher-student relationship was essential with young people in high school. In this period when distance education is part of the daily life of many, there are some challenges to maintaining this relationship, but it is possible to maintain the link. 

The bond of trust that is established between students and their teachers becomes one of the keys to acquiring respect and attention from young people. In elementary and secondary schools, the link with the student must be a priority and go before even the transmission of content. 

Once the connection is established, the teaching of the content becomes much more fluid and the pace in the classroom accelerates. The majority of the students then respect the instructions and, above all, do the required tasks well.

How to develop the link?

For my part, I consider that being interested in and participating in the daily life of my students, in their goals, their interests and, above all, being attentive to their needs, helps me a lot in my classroom management. .

It's my way of gaining their respect and at the same time their trust! At the start of the year, relationship building takes up a lot more space than content, but over time, content takes its place naturally. I compare it to a train that leaves the station slowly, but gradually picks up speed and rolls off the tracks.

The teacher needs to have the youngster's attention, especially at this time when we often find ourselves online with them.

How to maintain the link at a distance?

And indeed, the current period is not the easiest, neither for the pupils nor for the teachers. In the Quebec City region, it has now been over a month that all students (secondary, primary returning after 4 weeks) have been in distance education. I feel shortness of breath on both sides, but we must not let go. 

I have to take the situation into account to adapt my lessons accordingly. I take the time to chat with my students. I vary the learning situations, I try to put the students into action as much as possible. For example, I organized remote science labs, a photo rally, created Google Forms, and even cooking workshops in the respective classes.

I had no choice but to change my expectations of my students. I am collecting as many traces as possible of their learning using the technological tools at our disposal. I'm trying to focus on the essentials that have been identified by the Ministry, and I'm obviously using my judgment. I will adapt some exams and ask for work to be put back online. 

We have to tell ourselves that everyone is doing their best. On the other hand, I cannot help but notice that the gap is widening between the students who are doing well and those who have difficulty. There are those for whom distance education has had no effect on their motivation and success. For others, it is quite the opposite. There are inequalities which are being created and which will be difficult to overcome. And I dream of being able to devote a little more time to them individually.

According to my vision of education, the task of a teacher, in addition to having to present content and follow the progression of learning, is above all to be a guide and a model for our young people. This is all the more true at this time.

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