For this course activity, I applied a reverse engineering technique to establish a common ground with my K-3rd grade students and forge a bond that would foster a mutually beneficial relationship. The reverse engineering technique entailed sharing a personal anecdote with the students to help them learn about me and possibly understand things we shared in common. An important aspect I considered before applying this technique was the classroom context; I teach a special education elementary school bridge class (K-3rd grade) in a predominantly African American neighborhood and school. All the students in the classroom are eager to learn; however, they all have special needs that should be met individually to develop their reading and writing skills. Therefore, for this particular activity, I decided to bring along some of my old photos and films my mother took of me as a young kid. These materials told a story of the challenges I encountered at a young age as I began school, my parents’ support while doing my homework, and how I slowly became a top achiever, as reflected in photos of me receiving awards.
By the end of this activity, the classroom was highly interactive, with even the most silent students sharing their experiences with schoolwork and how their parents helped them go over their homework. According to Christensson (2021), any reaction from the student would confirm that oral stories can assist in managing the classroom’s interaction order. In this case, I shared an authentic personal story that the students could relate to and reinforced it with visuals to help establish a common ground and build rapport for open communication and classroom interaction. Besides the interaction, I noticed a significant improvement in my student’s academic performance. This improvement reinforced the premise that teacher-student relationships improve students’ learning and educational outcomes (Agyekum, 2019). Apart from the student’s academic advancement and enhanced interaction, I was delighted with the socially and emotionally enhanced classroom environment and students’ motivation to share and learn.
Agyekum, S. (2019). Teacher-student relationships: The impact on high school students. In Journal of Education and Practice, 10(14), 121–122. https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED595084.pdf
Christensson, J. (2021). Resemiotized experience in classroom interaction: A student teacher’s interactional use of personal stories during teaching placement. Multimodality & Society, 1(4), 497–516. https://doi.org/10.1177/26349795211059095