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If there’s one thing I can say I really do well, it’s build rapport with students. Many of the students when I left my middle school placement were very upset that I had to leave and mentioned how much they’d really enjoyed my being there. These are very urban middle schoolers who certainly have strong opinions about things, including me. I know how much they like me and how much they’ve appreciated me. Even some of the toughest kids in the class have done their work for me, one of them citing that “[I] just know how to talk to kids in a way that makes [him] want to do [his] work.”

These kids don’t always have the best backgrounds, but in my mind, they are all angels (perhaps not always behaviorally, but for what they’ve gone through). They’ve gone through a systematically oppressive system that I can relate to only as a city kid – not in terms of race. Some of the things they’ve made it through and survived are unfathomable circumstances to those in suburban or rural settings. They are all so particularly special in their own ways. My opinion of middle schoolers has changed so drastically and has become so much more positive than it once was. The experience to work in such an urban setting was initially daunting but has made so many of the issues clear to me, and has only bolstered my ability to build rapport with students and make them feel comfortable with me. I hope that this skill follows me throughout my career, as it seems to be certainly the most invaluable – if you can communicate with your students in a way that makes them trust you, you have the power to shape them for the future, and for the better.


  1. Having that rapport with students is so fundamental to teaching. Without it we lose all credibility as teachers. Its amazing, we never explicitly learned that, perhaps a professor said it somewhere, but nowhere did we work as a group to figure out what we can do to build rapport. Even so, I know each of us in the cohort has the ability to do this, and to do this very well. Maybe that’s just one of those things you need to be able to do naturally and is not something that can be taught.

  2. Teaching has everything to do with that silly little word that Jim always talks about doesn’t it?

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