Thursday, April 5, 2012

Relationship building

Trust is the key to building relationships---this is true with parents, students and with other teachers. Here is another great article from the Edutopia New Teacher Connections group. This group is facilitated by Lisa M. Dabbs M.Ed. (@teachingwthsoul on Twitter). She is also the founder of the weekly #ntchat for new teachers on Twitter, and blogs about supporting new teachers at Teaching With Soul. This particular section is written by Joan Young, who is an elementary teacher and academic coach with a passion for building efficacy in kids. She is the author of 25 Super Sight Word Songs & Mini-Books published by Scholastic, Joan is an experienced educator with many years in the field. This article is quoted in full from the Edutopia site. Enjoy!

Building Relationships by Joan Young

A wordle of the answers I received when I asked students about the importance of the relationship between students and teachers.
When I first began teaching, I encountered many complex situations with no easy answers. Curriculum teacher's editions certainly did not provide solutions to issues of teaching in a low performing school where many teachers had long ago burned out. I learned quickly that the one factor I could control was how I interacted with others to develop relationships that led to student success.

Below are a few tips to get you started working on building relationships...

1) Put Your Own Oxygen Mask on First!
Don't burn out by spreading yourself too thin. Before that "yes" flies out of your mouth when a colleague or administrator asks for a favor, evaluate the situation. Ask when they need an answer, and determine whether you can take on the task. Set reasonable deadlines and prioritize your "must-do's." I use Evernote and my Google calendar to prioritize and track daily tasks. Eat healthy, exercise, and take care of you! Just like that old saying, "You can't love someone else until you love yourself first," you can't be present for your students if you neglect yourself.

2) Trust is the Key to Relationships
The relationship I had with one of my kindergarten students a few years ago.
Be consistent, reliable and careful to promise only what you can deliver. Let students know that you are available to meet or that they can send you email anytime. When students know you are on their side, they will take the risks and make the mistakes that lead to true learning.

3) Sense of Humor is Key
When we share funny stories and jokes, we form deeper bonds with others. With my students and colleagues, I often poke fun at my mistakes, creating a model of not taking myself too seriously. I also share brief uplifting, humorous stories and videos in class and through email, encouraging others to be playful as well.

4) Reflect, Don't React
Often we feel urgency in responding to issues that others perceive as a crisis. Take time to reflect and get support when you feel angry or upset. Respond to email in a timely manner; few situations require immediate response. Be careful that you discuss sensitive issues in person, as a lot can be misunderstood through email.

5) Use Your Network
Reach out to a support network of colleagues both at your school site and online. Use Twitter and chats like the New Teacher chat to build a network. Be selective with whom you interact at school. Negativity is contagious, but positivity can be too!

6) Speak Up
Don't be afraid to say what you need when talking with your administrator. It's taken me years to learn that I can gain more effective support when I frame the discussion by stating what type of response I need: "Please listen, because I just need to say this." Sometimes I might say, "Please help me brainstorm solutions. Here is what I have so far." If I bring ideas to my principal, we often reach a mutually agreeable solution in a very short time frame.

Useful Links from Edutopia for Learning How to Build Relationships
The following resources will help you to continue to work on building relationships:
Starting the School Year off Right
The Parent School Relationship: the Importance of Listening
Early childhood education and beyond: Teacher-child relationships and learning
They Want to Know About Us
Choosing the Right School: The Importance of Student/Teacher Relationships and the Role of Uncertainty in Educational Excellence
The Four R's: Relationships in Twenty-First Century Schools by Bob Lenz
Principal Derek Pierce on Building Relationships Between Students and Teachers Video by Ken Ellis