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SubSuggestions Newsletter: Why? The Teacher Doesn’t Even Like Me

Recently I was observing in a classroom, when an aide leaned over to a student and asked him to follow the directions the teacher gave. The student immediately replied, “Why? He doesn’t even like me.”
Obviously I don’t know how the teacher felt about the student. But the student believed the teacher didn’t like him.
This brief interaction started me thinking.
  • Do students generally feel the same way as this student?
  • What about myself? If a teacher doesn’t like me, can I tell?
  • What makes students feel a teacher likes them?
  • Is our behavior better when we feel someone likes us?

We need to help students know we like being around them. How do we do this?

One easy way is to increase our positive interactions.
In other words, we could watch for what students do right instead of what they do wrong. Find them fun and enjoyable to be around. Laugh at their jokes. Have them teach us about what they are interested in.
Positive interactions go a long way to create a learning environment where students want to behave well.
This week, start noticing whether your interactions with students are positive. Does it make a difference? How so? I’m eager to hear your thoughts! Share them below.
Jessica Smith

About Jessica Smith

I am the Chief Education Officer at the Substitute Teaching Division of STEDI.org. I have worked as both a permanent teacher and a substitute teacher. Now I train thousands of substitute teachers nationwide through webinars, online, and onsite training.


  • David Medley says:

    This is an important idea. Smile at your students, ask them how they’re doing, let them feel that you care and like them. This will encourage them to participate in class, and feel more positive about doing their work.

  • vs_praseeda says:

    Yes , positive interactions go a long way. I feel whenever I show interest in their interests or just give a listening ear to whatever they have to share, it makes a difference. Just joining in their little conversations coming down to their level , makes a difference.


    I completely agree with this idea. I am a long term sub at a K-8 elementary school. When I am called in to sub in a classroom, I prefer that the teacher NOT tell me anything about particular students. I want to go in with an open mind and NO preconceptions. I try to approach my students with a positive attitude and I TRY to treat each student equally. I want EVERY student to feel comfortable and respected. It is hard because teachers are human too and we have our good days and our bad but to me, it is very important that ALL my students feel equally important and cared about! I really want to create a feeling that each child is safe to be themselves and encouraged to learn in a positive manner!!!

  • Jessica Smith says:

    From David: Yes, I already make great efforts to interact with the students. It starts when they enter
    my room. I greet each student in a friendly voice. “Hello! welcome to my room, I am your
    teacher today. Your assignment is on the board.” EACH STUDENT as much as possible.

    Then during roll call, I say the students name clearly and try to sound friendly when
    I say their name. It is possible to say a persons name in a gruff snarl…. or in a friendly
    voice. I use the friendly voice. I might make a comment about a students name such as
    one student had the name “Creve Coeur” I said “That is the name of a city in St. Louis and
    I think that is a really nice name.”

    If the children start to get unruly, I try to speak to them as a group to “Quiet down.” If that doesn’t
    work, then I walk up to individual group of 3 or 5 students and speak to them calmly and ask
    them to be quiet for roll call. I only yell loudly if someone violates a safety rule such as walking
    out my door without permission.

    The problem with being nice is the fact that there are 25 or 30 students who each have
    different attitudes and beliefs. Some of them maybe don’t like being in school and they
    want to act wild and have fun. Others want to obey the rules and they respect the teacher
    and they don’t cause trouble. Then there are some who act up simply because they think
    they can get away with it… or maybe they think EVERY TEACHER dislikes them. With 25
    students, you will have 25 different unique thought processes. It is impossible to deal
    with all of those different ways of thinking in an efficient manner if you are a substitute.

    I calmly ask the groups of students to stop whatever bad behavior they are doing
    and I explain that I must have your respect or “I will be forced to press the button and
    then you will be in trouble! We don’t want you in trouble… do we?”

    After roll call, I inform the students that I will be walking around the room with a clip board and
    will ask them to sign their name to my LIST OF STUDENTS WHO ARE NOT IN TROUBLE!!!

    At the top of the paper I write something like, “Please sign your name here because you
    are a student who is doing your assignment and not disrupting the class.” While they are
    signing my clipboard, I talk to that student and I say, “I noticed you are doing your work and
    you are acting more mature than some of the other students, and I appreciate that!” Then I
    give them a thumbs up sometimes.

    As I walk around the room, sometimes 3 other nearby students are SURPRISED and they want to sign
    the list too! But, I say, “WELLLLL… you haven’t started doing your work yet. But don’t worry, I will
    be back around later and we will be sure to get your name on this list too!” I have had students RUN
    back to their chairs and start working because they too want to be on the ” I’M-NOT-IN-TROUBLE-LIST.”

    EVERY STUDENT WANTS TO BE ON THIS LIST!!!! I inform the student that it is EASY to get your
    name on this list. You only must be making an EFFORT to do your work, and don’t disrupt class.
    If you want to get a GRADE you must finish the assignment though! Once the students see that
    i am not yelling at them to GET TO WORK… and I am speaking to them respectfully, Then MOST
    students get on board and at least try.

    When a student gives me a paper that is not finished, I ask them if they tried their best? They
    usually say, “YES.” So I tell them “I have to respect anyone who tries their best, even if you
    didn’t finish. Thank you for trying your best.” And I give the student a thumbs up and a smile.

    I know from personal experience that I don’t want to get started painting the house or mowing
    the lawn… or whatever. But…. if I will just do the FIRST STEP… get up off the couch.. then the
    second step is a lot easier. THAT is why I insist on the students to at least TRY.

    Today I had a girl who took her cellphone out 3 times. Finally I sat down right next to her in the
    chair close by. I asked her in a friendly joking kind of voice, “Do… you think Mister Monday
    is maybe kinda STUPID… or something? Don’t you think I can see you on the phone? And I
    say, “little girl…. I don’t like getting anyone in trouble. PLEASE don’t FORCE ME to push that
    button and get you in trouble!”

    FINALLY the girl did what I said. She didn’t take it out again! When class was over, I always
    wave goodbye and tell the students to , “Have a nice day!!!” and I might say, “Always be nice
    to your substitute!!!”

    If the kids are talking too much and not doing their work, I don’t yell at them gruffly. I walk up and
    I say to the group of several students, “I don’t mind if you folks talk a little, but you need to do
    a little work also!” Then I walk away. Often it takes a couple warnings, and then if they are still
    talking and not working after a couple friendly warnings, then I tell them that they “have to do some
    work, or maybe you 4 students need to be moved away from each other?” This usually gets them
    working. I always tell them “It’s OK to talk a little… or to goof off a little… but you can’t play all day.
    We must get some work done too!” I don’t yell, I speak calmly and friendly and firmly.

    It doesn’t always work, But I know that NOBODY wants to be yelled at or to get in trouble so
    I make every effort to be friendly and respectful to the students and when I do have to push
    the “button” on the wall, It is well deserved. If I notice a group of kids who were UNRULY at the
    beginning of class…. but now they are working and mostly talking but NOT unruly, I will walk up
    to those boys or girls and I will thank them for doing the right thing and I say, “That is a sign you
    are growing up into a mature boy or girl.

    Every kid wants to think they are maturing into an adult. It is a great compliment to give.

  • Dorothy Crowley says:

    Jessica, this is a awesome topic. Students as well as teachers react differently when they feel they are liked. I am a firm believe in the saying “You can catch for flies with honey than you can with vinegar. Kindness is priceless, and beginning with a smile when enter acting with students can make the difference in their behavior and create an environment where they feel safe and cared for.

    I am enjoying reading others comments and learning additional interactive tools.

    Thanks everyone!

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