Why You Should Share Who You Are With Your Students

Why You Should Share Who You Are With Your Students

Telling your students your life stories is not about bigging yourself up, it’s actually about making yourself more real and relatable.

By Samuel Kett

The word “Teacher” only explains a part of who you are; this title can put a bit of a barrier between us and our students which can prevent them from being able to relate to us. Telling stories about your life that your students can relate to, can break down this barrier and provide the base for building trusting and cordial relationships. I’m not suggesting that you just boast about your achievements and rave on about your envy-inducing experiences, I am actually encouraging you to share your more silly, funny and relatable stories; and you can do this as part of your learning program.

Step 1 – Create a List of Stories

First, you need to collate a list of as many stories from your life as you can. Give each story a catchy title that will intrigue your students. When thinking of your stories, try to go all the way back to your childhood as often these are the ones that your students will love to hear the most, especially if they are funny. Two of the stories my students have most enjoyed are “caught swearing by teacher” and “chased by dog”. I definitely recommend that you do add your biggest achievements and experiences to your list as well, so your students can see your more lighthearted side as well as your driven and motivated side.

Also, telling stories where you felt worried and faced challenges can be great for building trust too. We forget sometimes that what may seem like minor events to us as adults can actually seem like a massive deal to students. For example, when I was 5 years old, I accidentally made a small hole in my exercise book; this basically brought my world crumbling down and I was too scared to tell anyone about it. My teacher finally noticed after a few days that something was wrong and called my mum in. I took them to my desk and showed them my book with a hole in it. I started crying but my mum and teacher reassured me everything was ok and that I hadn’t done anything wrong.

Step 2 – The Lesson / Unit

This can certainly be turned into a narrative or recount writing unit and your storytelling session or two can be used as a way to tune your students in.

Set aside a whole lesson to share your stories. Show students your list and get them to choose the stories they like the sound of. If they don’t choose one of the stories that you know will be good, then just tell it anyway. Your students will love this storytelling session and will be eager to share their own stories too. This is where you can link it to your writing program (or even oral language) and explain to the students that they will have a chance to share their memorable experiences too.

In Short

No matter what your opinion is about curriculum and pedagogy, the importance of building positive relationships with our students is something I’m sure we can all agree on. Not only has this been proven to raise our student’s chances of academic success, but positive relationships are a common attribute of the happiest people. So the relationships you have within your classroom can impact your well-being beyond the classroom. Telling our stories and sharing who we are beyond the classroom is a learning experience that can be really fun and beneficial for establishing positive relationships with our students.

Your Turn

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this in the comments below. Do think you would like to give this activity a go? If you have done something similar please do share, and if you have a story that comes to mind that you think your students would love to hear, it would be great if you could share it with us first.


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