School has been in session for several weeks. It’s a good time for us to think about how well we have come to know our students as individuals. A formative assessment on relationship building, so to speak. It is especially difficult for large teams to see the individual faces when 125 + students pass through the doors each morning. Assessing how well the relationship building between our team and our students is going is an excellent use of common planning time. Positive teacher-student relationships are essential to a supportive and challenging learning environment (http://www.schoolclimate.org/climate/schoolclimatebriefs.php).
Try this during common planning time!
- Each teacher brings a list of homeroom students
- Homeroom teachers go down the list and put a star next to the names of students they know something personal about…
- How many brothers and sisters?
- How the student likes to learn?
- What responsibilities they might have at home–babysitting for siblings each night?
- What they like to read?
- Trade lists until everyone has gone through each homeroom list and starred students they know something about beyond their grades.
- Spread out all of the lists on a table and look at them
- Identify which students no one knows beyond the seat they hold in the classroom. Also identify those students few know.
- Design a plan for ensuring each and every student has at least one adult advocate on the team who knows him/her well. Think about the Donald Ducks on our teams–the children no one really knows at all. Imagine how lonely the school experience must be for these children. Some startling statistics:
- In the last 45 years, teen suicide have increased by 60% (http://www.who.int/mental_health/prevention/suicide/suicideprevent/en/)
- 85% of girls and 75% of boys report being stressed by the economy (http://www.stageoflife.com/StageHighSchool/OtherResources/Statistics_on_High_School_Students_and_Teenagers.aspx)
- Nearly a third of all teens report either being bullied or a part of bullying activity. (http://www.bullyingstatistics.org/content/school-bullying.html)
- Some possibilities include:
- Goal setting with students
- Individual conferences with students once or twice a month to check in with how things are going– these can be just a 2 minute conversation in the cafeteria during lunch or in homeroom.
- Community building activities
- Get to know you activities during class & sponge activities at the beginning or end of class
Building relationships with students needs to be intentional on the part of the team. Yes, they develop naturally with some students, and with others they need to be consciously cultivated with the teachers taking the lead. Positive teacher-student relationships, even with the hard to teach and reach students, are a critical component of a team culture that leads to higher achievement and healthier social-emotional lives of the students..