Monday, July 22, 2013

Build relationships with your learners

The summer is trying to be sneaky. It's trying to disguise itself as a slow moving canoe, but in reality it's like a train speeding down the track! 

Yes, it's inevitable. At some point many teachers across America are prepping for next year. There are also several that aren't! But sorry--my Type-A-organized-self can't wait until 1 week before to start getting things figured out!

Currently I have about 10 tabs open on 2 browsers and I'm navigating 3 word documents and writing down notes on my iPad. I'm not ready for this!!

I've thought a lot about my school year last year.'s like NIGHT and DAY when I think about year 1 and year 2!! I feel like in year 1 I was swimming in the deep end, treading water when I was out of breath. I did activities that were boring simply because I ran out of time to find something else, and I hated how I taught my kids! I did not put them first--I put the curriculum first. Oy vey!

Last year was so different. I decided I would do things exactly how I felt they should be done. Last year was like a breath of fresh air! I remember thinking to myself last year, I have to put them first. I have to consider what their going through and give them a break. 

It's hard to build relationships with 140 kids that you only see for 48-55 minutes a day. But here's the thing; I see them for 48-55 minutes a day. Every day. Monday-Friday. That's almost 5 hours a week. 

I used to work in ministry at the church I grew up in--I saw many of those students for less time than that a week. There can't be excuses for building relationships with students. As teachers, we have such a huge impact on their lives. They learn from us--I'm not talking about what's on the curriculum list. They watch us and learn how adults react to everyday situations. You cannot say outloud--well I can't build relationships--we're teachers for crying out loud--we learn on a daily basis, teach yourself how to! :)

We hold great molding capabilities daily. Did I impact every student last year? Probably not. I don't win over every student--not every student will like us teachers (remember, we're the ones that give them tests--they tend to dislike that). But we impact a great deal of them.
Studying hardcore in the pit before IB exams!

 Presentation on our sustainability initiative

IB Banquet

Like the one that thought biology was so boring. Then, they walked into my they LOVE learning about life!

Or the ones that graduate and give you notes that tell you that your teaching style has helped them grasp information, rather than memorize and regurgitate.

Or the one who came in before school, after school, and emailed wanting to know more about surgery they were going to have this summer. 
How we act with our students matters. Carving out moments to get to know them matters. Curriculum--it follows after you've opened up the door into their lives. 

Have you seen this TED talk? It's amazing. Check it out and be inspired! Dr. Rita Pierson passed away last month--what a legacy she has left!


  1. Yes yes yes! As a future teacher, it is SO encouraging to see teachers like you with such a passion. Thank you for writing this...may your new school year be filled with intentionality and growing relationships. :)

  2. Seriously! This has inspired me more than ever!!! I've only been teaching for a school term and it has been one of the most challenging times of my life. But going into this new school year, I've seen the things that I need to change. But after reading your blog and listening to Riat Pierson I am totally encouraged! Thanks!!