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Setting the Tone for Success in the Classroom: Building Relationships

July 21, 2014

I do start classes this evening and yes it is still summer outside. I’ve made a promise to myself that even though I am back to school, I will enjoy the sunshine and good weather by walking outside each morning. I enjoy walking outside, but I will admit that it is partly because I have a beautiful place to walk: a park with a lake, trees, birds, and wildflowers and a 1 mile trail around the lake. It is the perfect place for exercise and quiet reflection. The setting is so important to everything we do.lake

This morning as I walked I was thinking of my upcoming classes and especially tonight. The tone for a successful class begins as soon as students walk through the door. I’ve revised and updated my lesson plan with a focus on building positive relationships and modeling that for my students. I will be in the classroom an hour before class to organize myself and get the room ready to welcome my students.

Sometimes it is hard for me to convince my students that the time spent on preparation and building relationships and community is time that will ultimately give them and their students more time for learning. New teachers are so worried about meeting all the standards and covering all the curriculum that they just want to get the kids in the classroom and start teaching.

If I could teach that way, my life would be easier. I wouldn’t have spent hours reading, creating, and planning lessons to engage, instruct and model. Instead I would have just planned a 4 hour lecture on how to manage a classroom. I could certainly tell students what to do with a little lecture, a story or two, more lecture and a couple of “Turn and Talks.”

But there are several problems with that approach. I wouldn’t like it, and my after-class reflection would not be a good one. My students would be bored and disappointed, and I don’t believe my students would actually learn anything. This is not how Best Practice teachers teach, and I would be a poor role model. It would not set the stage for a productive learning environment for the remaining classes. A grand opportunity would be lost.

So I will get to class early to put flowers on the tables and start the music. The stage will be set for an engaging class. I’ll use the interactive strategies and activities I have planned, and hopefully we will all leave class with a sense of fulfillment and a deeper appreciation for the relationships we build in classrooms.


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