Want to connect with students? Keep up with the latest trends

Credit: Alison Yin / EdSource

It seems like every week there’s a new trend on social media that teens are obsessed with. Students come into my classroom and say the most random slang terms that hurt my brain just trying to understand them. Once a student was impressed that I was wearing Vans shoes because they thought they didn’t know my age group (I’m in my 30’s…).

With all these trends and slang constantly changing, it’s enough to make your head spin. While it’s easy to write off these trends, roll your eyes, and make a comment about today’s youth, let’s learn from them instead. Taking the time to keep up with trends can help you connect with your students and even your own children.

When we think back to the teachers who changed our lives, I highly doubt it was because of their curriculum or their grades. Most of us look back on our former teachers with love for connecting with us. As you strive to connect and understand students, your classroom management and the overall culture of the space will be of great benefit.

  1. Look at the music they’re listening to. While their music may not be appropriate in the classroom, you can always listen to them on your drive home. Some artists are actually classroom-ready! Creating a playlist of songs he likes and resonates with can show that you care about him.
  2. Ask her how her weekend or day was. Just asking them how they are doing can make a big difference to a teenager. Personally, I use warm-up questions to ask them in a short classroom discussion. Here the relationships in the class grow. I find out what movies they watch, what stores they shop at, how their friends treat them, and so on.
  3. Make time for conversations outside of class time. I totally agree that teachers have their lunch breaks to themselves. However, sometimes it is beneficial to get out of the classroom and spend time with your students. Eat lunch with them, chat about non-educational topics, and most importantly, have fun! On our campus, and I’m willing to bet others, we have the opportunity to just hang out with our students. Whether it’s accompanying the dance or the midday games, it’s all important to building that connection.

Let’s face it, teachers aren’t in the job for fame and money. We are here because we love students and enjoy working with them. Now that I’m a veteran teacher, I sometimes feel that joy when I leave. I feel the weight of the job and often have to step back to reorient myself.

Remembering what brought me to this job helps me refocus and enjoy my job again. These kids, no matter what grade level you’re teaching, deserve a teacher who genuinely enjoys sharing the space with them. Although they can be a bit weird at times, they can also be wonderfully weird and bring so much joy to everyone.


Katie Begen is a mother of three, a high school biology teacher, and a board-certified trainer in Fresno.

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