“What is a teacher? I'll tell you: it isn't someone who teaches something, but someone who inspires the student to give of her best in order to discover what she already knows.”
― Paulo Coelho, The Witch of Portobello
The final unit in the Flipped Learning Level II certification course is titled The most important things. I am not going to talk about the unit in this article, however, other than to say that it is a largely an interesting conversation between Jon Bergmann and Pedro Noguera on the topic of student-teacher relationships
I agree wholeheartedly that our relationships with students will be one of the most important factors in determining whether you will have a fruitful year with that student. Relationships can start poorly and recover, start well and sour, or as in most relationships, be up and down throughout the year. But good relationships will bear fruit in the form of learning.
What do you do at the start of each year to build strong relationships with your students? What do you do at the start of term/week/day/lesson to reconnect and check in with your students? It is something that you do not receive any training or advice on during your initial teacher education other than learn their names and their dis/likes. That is pretty basic and, unless you are a robot, should happen naturally. How do you take it another step so that students look forward to your lesson, knowing that your class is a safe and supportive space where they can fail with confidence, learn without fear, and be challenged with a foundation of trust and respect underpinning their perception of the classroom?
There are some fairly straightforward things that can be done that I have seen and/or used in my own classes, such as simple celebrations of every students birthday as class, sharing (appropriately) about yourself, having one-on-one conversations with your students each day, recognising celebrating their successes and failures, trusting them, showing them the respect that you expect....the list goes on.
I will end this short article with a video from Kid President. My regular readers will have seen this before, as I referenced it when I delivered the Graduate Address at my graduation ceremony. I would love to be remembered the way that Mrs Flexer was and is remembered by her students. I think that we should all be striving to be remembered this way. I have been asking teachers in professional learning sessions that I have been running lately who can point to a teacher that you had a student, who you can look back on and point to as, if not influencing your decision to enter teaching, then as having a significant and positive impact on your life. I am yet to ask this question in a session and have no responses.
As teachers, our words and ideas can change the world. Be awesome and build amazing relationships with your students so that they can be awesome.
Thank you, as always, for reading.