My 17-year-old daughter just called me from her U.S. History class to ask for a ride home. Her teacher – who will remain nameless since I want him/her to keep a job – allowed her to call as long as she told me that she loved me in front of the whole class. Which she did. Twice.
I think letting her call from class was a wise communication move on the teacher’s part. It showed empathy at her stress of not having a way home. It demonstrated that this teacher gets how to reward students in non-traditional ways. It also shows that the teacher would rather take 30 seconds at the top of the class for a phone call than have a distracted student distracting everyone else in the class for 50 minutes.
Above all, I think the teacher earned a little respect from my daughter and her classmates by being flexible and bending the rules a bit. (Telling me she loved me also meant it was not the easiest call to make in front of all her cool friends.) I’m not advocating that teachers need to be best buddies with their students and let them get away with things. That only leads to chaos. But ”getting” teenagers is half the battle to getting teenagers to succeed.
That is true of communicating to any audience. The better you understand their motivations, needs and quirks – and respect them for who they are – the more successful you will be in earning their trust.
That’s my take anyway. What’s yours?