Building Relationships that Matter

"I love Mrs. Fulbright, because she greets me with a warm smile and makes me feel special. She is the best teacher." ~ Payton C.

This comment was made by one of my dear students when he was asked to speak about me during a  filming that took place in our classroom. It truly warms my heart to know that I have not only positively impacted Payton, but many other children during my time as a teacher. After hearing these sweet words, I hugged Payton and he further explained that he knew just what to say, because I had spent time getting to know him ( spent time talking about his interests, visiting his ball game outside of school, gearing learning to fit his needs, etc.). To know that these simple gestures made that much of an impact made me really think about my daily interactions with students. Do I always greet them with a smile? Am I providing each child exactly what they need? Do they know I deeply care for their futures? These are some of the many questions I will continue to ask myself and actions I will ensure I take in my classroom throughout my career as an educator. What about yourself? Are you making these connections with your students? How? If not, why? What more can we do to build these lasting relationships with our students?

Why relationships matter

All people want to know that they matter and are important. As a teacher, I want to hear "Thank you, Mrs. Fulbright, for filling in for your colleague during duty today" or "Mrs. Fulbright, when observing today, I saw how well you manage your classroom." We all want to feel appreciated - even students. It's not our jobs as educators to make students think they are inferior; rather, we should lift up our students and make them feel wanted, loved, and appreciated. When doing so, students are more willing to give their absolute best for you.

I have witnessed this first hand throughout my journey as an educator. You come across that student you have heard is a behavior problem - you can do one of two things: 1) dread that they will be in your room and end up being miserable the entire year or 2) appreciate that you have the challenge and start from day one to build a relationship of trust with that student, making for a peaceful year. Of course, choice #2 has been my go-to strategy and has worked well.

There are many benefits of taking the time to get to know your students (academically AND socially): students appreciate you, students respect you, students can relate to you, students spread the word of positivity about you, students work harder for you, students remember you, students are successful because of you.

How to build positive, lasting relationships

We can pull mindsets into this conversation for both the student and the teacher. Students learn very quickly whether or not their teacher truly cares for them. If students have had negative experiences in the past, their mindset about the teacher needs to be changed. The only way to do this is through establishing a positive relationship from day one. Talk to the students about yourself, letting them get to know you and showing you are a real person - someone who messes up sometimes, someone who can joke around, someone who fails and tries again, etc. By doing so, they can learn to relate to you in some way. Maybe, you both played ball... or play an instrument. There are many ways to get to know your students: surveys, question & answer sessions, guess who game, getting to know you activities, and the list goes on. I have included some examples below for you to try. It's all about being real with your students. Once they see you are real with them, they will be real with you and very much willing to go out of their way for you. These type of connections will last make lasting impressions on you and each of your students.

Before I end this post, I wanted to share a Public Service Announcement video with you that focuses on the importance of building positive relationships with your students. Back in 2017, I was chosen by our superintendent to represent our school district on the Georgia Governor's Teacher Advisory Council. After serving on this team of teacher leaders, I was asked to be filmed to help promote teaching as a career. Thus, the Real Teachers. Real Voice. campaign began. Of course, I wanted my film to focus on the importance of building those positive relationships with students!

Resources to aid in building relationships with students
Student Learning Survey
Back to School Activities (MANY ACTIVITIES - could apply to many grade levels)
First Day Powerpoint (coming soon)
The Match Game (coming soon)
Posted on June 14, 2018

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