Taking Time for Relationship
December 1, 2017
In reading some professional articles recently, I was reminded of the fact that we are all designed for interaction and relationship. When considering our students, who travel through so many developmental landmarks during their time in elementary and middle school, a priority remains that we must know our students. Sincerely know them.
You may remember back to the popular TV show Cheers, when a certain fellow walked in and headed for his usual seat, everyone in the establishment exclaimed, “Norm!” The accompanying song that opened the show described the fictional establishment, Cheers, as a place “where everyone knows your name.” Isn’t that what we want for our children as we send them off to school? A place where everyone knows their name, and further, they’re “always glad you came.”
What I’m touching on here is the value and importance of meeting the social-emotional needs of our students. Students will never be able to get to the academics if they’re not taken care of properly with all of their other needs first. All children, but specifically children with challenges or who have experienced traumatizing experiences, need to have their basic needs met first. Then they are more apt to be able to handle some of the academics of the day. The school environment is not fictional like a television show, but rather it is a place where each child carries the reality of their life with them. It is our job to unpack their backpack of individuality, lighten their load, so they can begin to learn.
If we spend time connecting with students, the benefits are plentiful. By building relationships, we help students feel safe and valued. We let them know that we sincerely care for them. In doing so, they are more able to come to school, work to their potential, and adapt to the structure, all because they don’t want to disappoint someone who has taken time to invest in them. Through positive relationships children develop an inner sense of security that can lead them to doing well, because they begin to take pride and value in themselves.
The truth of the matter is that long after test scores are forgotten and the quality of the stellar Math lesson fades away, our students will remember their time here from the lens of relationship.
Try it out. Think back to your own education. Sure, you may remember a lesson or two, but what you probably most vividly remember is how you were treated by the teachers and the leaders of the school. Knowing this, with intentionality, we are reshaping how we communicate and relate to the students we serve. Valuing the identity of each student, letting each individual student know that they are expected to succeed (with our support), and creating a system of equity so that each student is able to get what they need out of our school system, are the action steps being taken in Forest Ridge School District 142.
We are relentlessly committed to building relationships with our students as we support them in both their academic and social-emotional learning. Helping our students become well-rounded, individuals, confident in their unique value, is what drives us forward.