Saturday, February 24, 2018

Your role in relationships


I have written about relationships before. Relationships with staff, relationships with students, and relationships with parents.  They are all important, but I think the most important relationships are those between students and each other. 

I have seen the quotes and saying that go something like this;

·      All a student needs is one connection with a teacher to change their life.

Or

·      A relationship with a student can change their life forever.

I think on the surface and in theory this sounds fine, and there is certainly nothing wrong with that message.  But in reality, it is an overly narrow approach to your role. It puts you in the role of the hero, the one that is needed beyond all others.  It implies to an extent that if you can not connect with that particular kid you have failed them.  We aren't all able to connect with all kids, no matter how hard we try.  

I would say that although the relationship between educator and student is super important and not much can be done without it, cultivating relationships amongst students is even more important.  It is not as glamorous though.  

Your ability to establish a culture in your building and classroom that promotes relationships between students is a testament to your ability to run a safe and healthy school. 

Every kid needs a friend.  At least one.  Not having friends leads to resentment, which then leads to all sorts of things.

So when you are thinking about working to build relationships with students, remember you are only going to be with them for a short period of time.  Their classmates potentially, could be with them for years. 

Think not what I can do for them, but how you can help them do for them.  You can have a major influence to promote and cultivate this. 

The greatest way I have found success as a principal has been finding a common task, game, or goal and allowing students to work together with my supervision and questioning to get them to open up.  Much of their day is scripted in many ways for them.  Or if not scripted like recess or lunch may be without an adult immediately present.  When we have unscripted time, which is all my time with kids, find some commonalities and build on them.  

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