I’ve been thinking a lot lately about relationships. As adults, we have all kinds of relationships. Google Circles would designate them as Family, Friends, Acquaintances, Colleagues, and Following. Of course, you can always “Create a new circle,” maybe Teachers, Students, or Cyberstalking to name a few. The point is that we can’t sum up our relationships in a nice little list. I have friends, and then I have my “Go To Girls”. I have my family, and then I have my immediate family. I have my colleagues who range from my boss across the hall to educators across the country (via social media!!). I know who to go to with a professional question, and who to go to for personal advice.
I mentioned “students” earlier. What are our relationships with our students? I’m no longer in the classroom, so my relationship is more indirect at this point. I still enjoy talking to former students, but I’m not creating many new student relationships. My own children are in first and fifth grade and I count on their teachers to get to know them, to discover their interests and abilities, and to challenge their thinking. In order to get to know our students, we have to talk to them. We have to listen. We have to let them know we care about them. All people work harder for people they like. This is true at any age. If teachers work on creating authentic relationships with their students, those children will enjoy school more, work harder on their assignments, and perform better on those amazing standardized tests (*tongue-in-cheek*, but let’s face it, we all have to play that game, too). This takes effort. It takes caring about the child and not the content. It takes genuineness. But I will wager that the student will not end up being the only person who benefits from that relationship.
“Sometimes a simple, almost insignificant gesture on the part of a teacher can have a profound formative effect on the life of a student.”
~ Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of Freedom