I do not know if someone agrees with me, when I say that when you are a teacher, you feel like if you were the father or the mother of your students because you are responsable of them, you teach them; and if you are close to them, you care about their problems. When you share these feelings, you tend to say many advice, examples or lessons of real life in class, but do we do what we say? As teachers we should preach with the example. How do we ask them to be punctual if you are not? or How do you ask them to do their homework if you are not able to plan a class? As Freire (2004) mentions in his sixth letter between saying and doing something, doing is more significant because you can see immediate effects. In spanish we have an adage "Una imagen vale más que mil palabras" ("A picture is worth a thousand words"). I think this adage can be reflected on habits. For example, I always ask my students to be punctual, but in order to show them this habit I arrive 10 minutes before class. They can see I am ready for the class. So, as Freire (2004) says, we should act and say what we expect from our students.
In addition, another important issue of this sixth letter is respect. One of those important values we, as teachers, want to have in our classrooms. But sometimes we think about respect between our students. And what happen with the respect between teacher and students? Freire (2004) says we should get our authority with respect. If you do not have respect from your students, they do not pay attention in class, the attitude is horrible, your motivation is null. I consider respect is won in a classroom when you know how to treat your students. For example, if you feel and treat your students as if you were so much superior than them, they are not going to have enough respect to you. We as teachers should not be arrogant. I have talked to my students many times, and they tell me how important is for them to talk to their teachers as if they were their friends, I mean, in a confident environment, where their teachers understand them.
If we have our students' respect we are going to be part of their community. Some of our students have problems because they are consider as "weak" because they do not participate, they are shy, or simply because they do not get on well with the rest of the class. If you, as teacher, have respect you can intervene in those situations in order to help them. I know through my experience that create a close relation with your students is not easy, but nothing is impossible. Moreover, when we create a relation with our students, it is a good idea to evaluate us with them. I did it once, and it was really valuable. I noticed what aspects I could improve. And as they feel confident to you, they can express what they really think about your work or the classes.
Similarly, during the seventh letter of Freire (2004) he talks about creating a relation with our students. What I liked the most, and something really useful for teachers is when he says that is better to talk with our students than talk to them. It is a hard process, because you should talk to them not only about school, but also about the real life. This is something very significant for them because they see you care about them more than just in a class. This helps you to form not only good students, but also good citizens. I think if you are a teacher, you are convinced education can improve a society. And why is it necessary to listen our students? Well, just in order they listen to us. That is why, Freire says that a school should be a place where we listen to others.
Finally, I can say that there is nothing better that having a close and strong relation with your students. This helps you as teacher, and as human being.
Freire, P. (2004). Cartas a quien pretende enseñar. Buenos Aires, Argentina.