If you’ve been in education for any length of time, you’ve probably heard about the importance of connecting with students. You may have even heard the often quoted, “Students don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” In the book Designed to Learn: Using Design Thinking to Bring Purpose and Passion to the Classroom, author Lisa Portnoy touches on this by introducing the concept of “HEARTS Before Heads” (p. 27-29). Teachers are encouraged to connect with students by using questions around the acronym HEART as follows:
- Home: Get to know students by inquiring about their home – who lives with them and helps them, the culture represented in the home, and some general interest facts.
- Educational Experiences: Ask students what courses and subjects are interesting to them. Ask them how they feel about school. Find out about prior experiences in order to incorporate them into new ones.
- Activities: Find out about the after school lives of students. Are they participating in sports, clubs, band, theater, or other similar types of activities? These interests can be incorporated into classroom work.
- Reasons for Learning: Ask students about why they are interested in learning what they learn. Ask if their learning is connected to a bigger picture regarding the student’s future pursuits.
- Transformative Life Experiences: Inquire of students about significant events that have impacted them or significant problems they would like to address in their learning.
- Special Attributes: Each student brings something unique. Find out what that is and bring it into the classroom as appropriate.
As you prepare for next week, think of ways to increase the connection you have to your students. It is likely to have a significant positive impact on you, your students, and your classroom!