I’m thrilled to be partnering with Advancement Courses, a leader in K-12 professional development with over 240 online courses in 20 different subject areas.
Relationship-building in schools may be the most important thing that teachers do. If teachers aren’t connecting with students and colleagues on a personal level, how do we do our best work?
After years in the classroom, and many, many conversations with fellow educators, here’s what I found to be true. . .
Building Relationships with Students and Colleagues: 6 Secrets to Success
Building Relationship with Students
Students spend up to six hours a day with their teachers, so imagine how much modeling teachers do in that time! When teachers have a strong connection with their students, anything is possible.
According to the American Psychological Association, “students who have close, positive and supportive relationships with their teachers will attain higher levels of achievement than those students with more conflict in their relationships.” It makes total sense. Students know when teachers genuinely care about them and believe in their abilities.
Here are three quick ways that teachers can build meaningful relationships with students:
1.) Get to know your students.
Ask about their interests, give them opportunities to share, and offer an open ear when they need someone to listen. Go to their sporting events or recitals. Talk about timely topics, and let them know you care.
2.) Let your classroom reflect your students.
Hang student work (yes, even the big kids!), try interactive bulletin boards, and consider a flexible seating arrangement in your classroom. Sure, we all may be more comfortable with the traditional desk arrangement and teacher in the front running the show, but there’s a lot of current research touting the benefits of exploring different classroom arrangements.
Remember, reading material should give students an opportunity to learn about each other and all sorts of people. Diversify the authors in your room, the genres, and the modes in which students consume texts. There are so many possibilities!
3.) Have fun with your students.
Kids are under so much stress these days that we really have to keep the atmosphere light when we are able to. Giving students a chance to really laugh is a great way to keep things fun in your classroom. Have a joke or a fun fact on your board each day. Or, when students line up, choose one student to read a joke. You may get some eye rolls or muffled giggles, but it’s worth it even for just one smile on their way out of your room.
Building Relationship with Colleagues
But student-teacher relationships aren’t the only important ones in the school. Teachers must get along with the other adults in the building, too!
Not only are teachers demonstrating what strong, healthy relationships look like between adults and children, but they are also demonstrating how adults can and should effectively communicate and interact with one another.
Relationships with other teachers in the school — the para-professionals, specialists, building service workers, cafeteria workers, and the admin team — are all important. When the whole school can support the same vision and mission, then those ideals can be driven to the students.
Here are three quick ways that educators can connect and support their colleagues:
1.) Remember that casual dress days totally rock.
Honestly, teachers love to get the ‘go’ to wear jeans on Fridays, to play along for student spirit weeks, or to dress down on pajama day. It makes a big difference to not have to really worry about getting all dolled up for just one of the five days of the week. It’s amazing how much casual days can affect teacher morale.
2.) Play games together.
Doing something collectively, as a school, really can boost energy among the staff. Whether it’s a springtime softball or kickball game, a wintertime weight loss challenge, or a fall chili cookoff, staff-centered games can be a lot of fun.
When we know each other personally, often we’re more likely to collaborate and support one another professionally. Who knows what awesomeness these kinds of ‘team-building’ activities can lead to?
3.) Show that mutual respect goes a long, long way.
Folks in school buildings work really, really hard. From building service to the principal in a large high school, I’ve got to believe that every person is doing the absolute best they can with what they have.
And rarely do any of these people have a weekend totally off of work or an evening to themselves; rather, their planning, grading, and assessing carries far into their personal time. Often, building service workers also carry weekend hours for school events.
For that reason, it’s important that everyone in the school building recognizes that each and every person is doing his or her best work. Every, single person deserves an equal amount of time and respect.
Advancement Courses teACh Team is all about building relationships this year!
I’ve mentioned that we are all about building relationships this year with the Advancement Courses, teACh Team! Many of you know that for the last few years, I have been working closely with Advancement Courses and some of the country’s most influential educators to share topics that matter most to teachers. We’re excited to announce that the partnership is continuing and is growing stronger than ever!
Join us this Thursday, February 27, 2020, at 8 p.m. EST as we talk all about building relationships in schools.
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fyi: This post was written as part of a partnership with Advancement Courses, but as always, my opinions are all my own, influenced only by my experience as a parent and educator.