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The R Words: Relationships and Respect

August 29, 2013

back to school

It is all about relationships of respect.

I believe this is true in all levels of our lives and in society as a whole.

In our area most students will go back to school on Tuesday, September 3. This week most teachers (including our student teachers) are in faculty meetings and professional development workshops. It is one of my favorite times of the school year. I love reconnecting with friends and colleagues and hearing about their summer discoveries. I feel a responsibility and enjoy the opportunity to connect with and mentor new educators, and I am such a nerd that I love learning or refreshing my practice during professional development sessions. I still love school.

During the last few days I have had several emails from former students who are now teachers in their own classrooms and from student teachers who are both excited for the opportunities, but a little scared of the unknown.

One new teacher told me, “I’m busy going through my start of school checklists and trying to get everything organized.”

Another, “I AM VERY EXCITED!!!!!  I will be teaching 5th grade!!!! Can you believe it???” (Yes, I can!)

And a student teacher in her first staff development sent this, “I’m sitting in my first day of staff development and guess who the speaker is today… ? He is amazing and sooo inspiring!!!”

In my own classes during the last few weeks I have stressed the importance of planning lessons and activities for the first days of school that allow teachers and students to get to know each other and build those important student-teacher relationships. Many beginning teachers are focused on curriculum. They are so determined to close the achievement gaps of their students that they short-change the social and emotional learning needs of their students.

One student asked,  “Will it really be okay with my principal that I don’t start math and reading on the first or second day?”

My answer, “It’s not, do you have time to do this, but can you afford not take the time to build relationships and community in your classroom?” I have checked with several principals and they assure me that they support the time needed to build relationships and community.

Zemelman, Daniels, and Hyde (2012) share the following in their discussion of principles of Best Practice:

Sociable: Learning happens most efficiently in an atmosphere of friendliness and mutual support, and teachers take steps to create safe, comfortable, and energizing classroom communities.

Democratic: The classroom is a model community; students learn what they live as members of that community. In school, we are not just training “consumers”; we are nurturing citizens—our future neighbors, coworkers, and fellow voters.

(Zemelman, Daniels, and Hyde, 2012, p. 9)

My advice this week is to build relationships. It is essential to build relationships and classroom communities. I know it has been important for me, for my students, and for my professional practice. I treasure my relationships with educators (some are former students). I enjoy getting those emails.teacher

Below are some great resources  for getting to know your students and for building community.

It is all about relationships!




Zemelman, S., Daniels, H.., & Hyde, A. (2012). Best practice: Bringing standards to life in America’s schools (4th Ed.). Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

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