Oxycodone is a narcotic found in the poppy plant often synthesized in labs to produce prescription pain killers. If you’re a superhero movie fan, you might know that Oxy was part of the prescription medication cocktail Heath Ledger, the latest Oscar winning incarnation of Batman’s Joker and my wife’s celebrity crush, passed away from in 2008.
And as unfortunate as this promising young actor’s death was, I hope you find solace in the fact that this article is not about Oxy. I mean seriously… Did you really think I was about to tell you to give your students Oxy?!?!
You were right. I am. I will talk about Oxy and how it helps you build relationships with students.
Building relationships with those you teach is all the rage in education lately. You probably thought about it and perhaps found out why it’s so important. But do you know why it is, that a student who feels cared for and loved is more motivated and often more successful? Have you ever wondered? About the science of the thing, I mean?
The answer might surprise you; it’s a well-kept secret after all. But I’m always honest with you, so I’ll tell you the truth.
The students taught by teachers they can relate to, be honest with, and lean on, perform better at school because those teachers give them Oxy. Oxy is the silver bullet.
Let me explain with a little story.
I loved my son even before he came out of my wife’s belly, but I’ll always remember many minute details of the day he was born. It’s because that day, I was high on Oxy. It was an especially potent dose. I remember feeling the sudden surge of love and happiness. The father me did not know it then, but the teacher me knows now the most powerful lessons are learned, and longest lasting memories form, in company of powerful feelings.
I was filled with happiness and motivation to be the best father I can be, because oxy was released into my brain. Lots of it.
And this is why you want to give your students Oxy. But don’t give them Oxycodone. Give them Oxytocin. More accurately, take actions that stimulate the release of Oxytocin in the brain.
Remember the warm feeling you got every time you met your future spouse when you dated? Or how much happiness you felt when your children were born? Or the hard to contain smile when you see a good friend or family member you have not seen for a while? Oxytocin baby!
Oxytocin is one of the happy chemicals, which are released in our brain when we experience things that help our survival and well-being. Oxytocin is released in social situations when we build relationships and trust others. The happy feeling leads us to be more motivated, which increases the chances of taking actions, which increases the possibility of success.
So... When you build trusting and caring relationships with your students, and this means going beyond teaching them and being nice, you increase the chance that they will actually like your class and the probability that they will learn from you becomes higher.
Now… It is important to know that it takes time for our brains to rewire, so while some students will like you and your class right away, the ones who have had bad experiences with your general subject (science, english, math etc.), might require several weeks for their brain structures and beliefs to change. This means that you will have to be consistently awesome at making sure you connect with and genuinely care for them.
Neural connections form and become stronger through repeated experiences. This is just as true in our social lives as it is in learning. Let's not sugarcoat and speak frankly. You will have to work much harder on reaching some students and be persistent when they don't receive your efforts the first, second, and third time. Just remember that it's worth it and persevere.
But there's more. When things become routine, excitement about them tends to wane. The shiny new and awesome teacher becomes familiar. They still like you, but you have to liven it up. by dressing completely out of character or doing something totally different every now and then. Be excited to be exciting. Change things up. Mix it up. But never forget to show them you love them.
'Cause you're the love dealer and Oxytocin is free. Give it to them.
You have the power to change the world. Use it often.
Inspired by Love, Teaching, and Meet Your Happy Chemicals by Loretta Graziano Breuning.