The student-teacher relationship will be tested in new ways during this phase. Teachers must recognize the importance of creating a safe space where students feel they will be heard. Sometimes the teacher’s most important job is to simply listen and be present. When boys see that teachers are invested in their success, trust develops and they become less hesitant to ask for help.
Fostering an authentic relationship often requires a time investment outside the classroom. By attending and supporting students’ varied activities, teachers can demonstrate that they care for more than just the academic life of the boys. Boys instinctively recognize and prize sincerity and authenticity. They know and appreciate when someone truly cares about their wellbeing and wants them to succeed.
Ideally, classroom instruction should include:
- Questions that lead to lively discussions where the boys feel safe to challenge the material and express their opinions
- Active learning rather than passive, rote learning
- Humor—including sarcasm, satire, parody, and a willingness to laugh at oneself
- Fairness in assessments
- Taking students out of their comfort zones, challenging them, and providing one-on-one support
- Reinforcing students’ ownership of their learning