Thursday, June 12, 2014

Relational Realities

real talk by Suzanne

Talking about education in the summer is difficult.  While we are still going to trainings, sorting and organizing supplies, and picking up things that are too cute to pass up at the dollar store, we're not quite ready to bust out the lesson plans for next year.  That is A-okay!  So instead, I bring you something to mull over in our new Relational Realities series on Thursdays.  

I feel like my relationships with my students are a pendulum- something I really focus on one year and slack off on the next.  It's hard to build relationships with 150+ students, many of whom you share very few common interests with.  However, building positive, healthy relationships is, in many ways, the foundation of a productive school year.

My sweet girl and I
My first year of teaching, I had this attitude-y tiny girl in my class that HATED me.  (Hate I can work with.  It is a strong emotion, but then again, so is love.  It's apathy that doesn't work for me.)  Over time, I wore her down.  She spent afternoons with me in tutoring. Because I would let her boyfriend come who was not my student and she enjoyed the time with him.  Pick.your.battles!  In this extra time, I got to talk to her.  We talked about big things and small things, but no matter the topic, something big was happening.  In addition to my class, the sweet girl had a reading recovery class.  She had not passed the previous year's (then) TAKS test.  At the end of her 8th grade year, my friend came within one question of being commended!  Was it because of my awesome teaching? While I hope that my attempts at instruction-remember, it was my first year- had something to do with it, I know that it was our relationship that made all the difference.  She wanted to do well for me.  She wanted to feel pride in her accomplishment, yes, but she wanted to know also that she made me proud.  And boy, did she ever!  

This was an important lesson to learn in that first year, but it is not one that I've mastered.  Especially with increased testing demands, relationships seem to have been put on the back burner. And just like everything else, if something's not your priority, it's likely not to get done.  Join me this summer as we brainstorm ways to create this relationship-building time in our days.  Workable ways that help you get to know your triple-digit class roster without a lot of time or expense.  

Welcome to...

If you haven't already, grab your friends and join us for The Curly Classroom's Birthday Party.  It's the Saturday after next!!  We've got a great day packed with tons of tips and ideas for close reading skills using our Shared Readings, interactive notebooks, writing structures and grouping strategies.  On our special day, we want to celebrate skill-based instruction in your classroom!  Click here to register.

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