In order for students to actually learn, they need to feel engaged on a cognitive and emotional level. They also need to feel safe.
Take a minute and think about that: students need to feel safe.
The first step in students feeling safe in school is having a positive relationship with the adult who is leading their educational journey. As Rita Pearson details in her famous TED Talk, every child deserves a champion or an adult who can make them feel safe and insist on them being the best they can be.
Relationships with students matter
Recently, I asked my friends on social media to share their stories of teacher champions. Here are two of the responses I received:
My 2nd grade teacher, Mrs. Miller, was my teacher champion! I entered 2nd grade not liking to read, and not really connecting with any of my former teachers. I remember walking into Mrs. Miller’s room feeling like the most important person. She always greeted me with a smile and had conversations with me about my life. She instilled my love for reading and love for school in general. I wanted to be just like her, and I knew I wanted to be a teacher from that moment. She is currently in her final year of teaching, and she is a cancer survivor. We are still in touch to this day
My champion is Mr. Hesling, my high school physics teacher. My parents were going through a divorce, which devastated me. Mr. Hesling knew what I needed without telling me he knew about my home life. I was noticed. I was important. I was safe in 4th hour.
Now, think about an educator who made a difference in your life growing up. What impact did this educator have? Why did they have that impact?
It’s likely because they took time to really get to know you, understand what you needed, and advocated for you.
Building strong relationships with students and having a meaningful impact on their lives matter. Doing so, however, takes time, attention, and some skills.
Building Deep Connections with Students
Creating lasting relationships with your students is all about building trust and getting to know them on a deeper level.
How I build relationships with students using instructional audio
5 ways relationship mapping supports your students
Danielle Sullivan, National Director of Content and Implementation, Curriculum Associates
Looking for more? Danielle’s next article in this series will focus on strategies for planning for success.
Danielle Sullivan brings 10 years of teaching experience to her role as a national director of content and implementation at Curriculum Associates. She specializes in establishing and strengthening middle school implementations with an emphasis on student engagement and motivation. Her popular webinars, presentations, and professional development training sessions have established her as a thought leader in educator well-being, personal development, self-care, and community building.
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