Positive teaching benefits student morale

Brooke Ellis, Staff Writer

“Hey Brooke, how are you doing today?” A simple question, yet I smile every time I hear it. I get excited that someone cares enough to ask about my day. It can be exhausting going to the same class and doing the same thing over and over again. When a teacher puts in the effort to get to know you, it can change everything about that class. 

Adam Sutton, the AP Economics teacher here at Dulaney High School, makes it his priority to build positive relationships with every student. Sutton has been teaching for over 10 years and  focused on simply having his students pass the class.  During COVID-19, Sutton used that time to reflect on what it means to be a teacher and why he became a teacher in the first place.  Post COVID-19, he strives to not only have them succeed, but to build relationships with them.

“I thought about what was good for me. I like to work with kids and sometimes as a teacher you can forget about them as people. So I thought, ‘get to know the kids and they will do a lot for you.’” Sutton said. 

As a student, I feel when a teacher puts in effort towards making me feel welcomed in a classroom, I have a responsibility to put in effort in that class. Having an extra person who cares whether or not you show up to class and succeed can make all the difference. As the school year goes on, it can be difficult to try and care about a class, but when a teacher creates a comfortable and safe space, students put in more effort. Sutton does days like “this or that Tuesday”, “reading Wednesday” or “favorite Friday” where the class has a break to discuss topics such as smoothies versus milkshakes, lessons from the Harry Potter books and favorite desserts. These conversations build a sense of community in the classroom and make going to Economics all the better. 

Sutton is aware that there is a trade off between creating a positive environment and always working on a subject but believes that it’s worth spending time forging relationships to help the overall morale of students. It’s also vital for the teacher to be happy themselves in order to put effort into caring for their students. Building relationships with students and creating a positive environment does not only help students but it can help the teachers. Knowing that they have something to look forward to in their days makes it a little easier to get out of bed every morning. 

“I could probably get a lot more problems in but I wouldn’t be happy.” Sutton said. 

I think as a society, we need to do a better job of making the school environment – which we are in for many hours of a day – to be something that we don’t dread going to. Teachers are the leaders of our classrooms, and I understand that their job is to make sure that students are learning and to make sure they pass their finals, but is it not also their responsibility to make sure students are okay? Having a positive attitude can create a positive environment which can motivate students to work harder, care more about the subject and overall create a stronger community here at Dulaney.