How will you intentionally build relationships with and between your students?
There just isn't any work more important than the work of relationship building. Without it, none of the other really important work gets done well. Relationship building begins on day one. While there are some very intentional things that I do to build relationships with kids, some of the relationship building happens naturally in our classroom. When I listen to my students I send a strong message that what they have to say is important and that they are important. When I stop what I'm doing and take time to be present to a student, that student thinks that he or she is the most important person in the room. And inside that moment, the student would be right! When I give a student my full attention and really engage, I'm sending the message that no person nor other thing is more important. This done repeatedly, over the course of days, and weeks, and months, builds strong relationships.
I do other things in and outside of the classroom to build relationships and community. Some of the more important things that I do are:
This type of feedback gives the power to my students. It is a heck of a lot better than me calling out, "I like how SOME students, like Margo, have made positive seating choices." In this example, Margo is probably dying a little and the other students feel like I'm manipulating them into being just like Margo. Plus, from a social perspective, I probably haven't done Margo any favors!
It really is all about relationships. That is what our kids hold onto...more than any content we teach. They, remember who we were as teachers and how we treated them and their classmates. Relationships matter.