Monday, November 29, 2010

Relationship Building - The 4th "R"

I've been asked on many occasions from a variety of people "What makes a good teacher?" I am in the business of teacher education and as such my job is to prepare future teachers. No matter what teaching strategies are all the rage (direct instruction, problem-based learning, integrated curriculum, etc.) and no matter what behavior management techniques or schools of thought claim to create manageable classrooms, it all comes down to this. . .

Know your students.

But what does it mean to "know" someone?

When you ask students what this means, here's what they say:

"She listens to what I have to say"
"He encourages me when I want to just quit"
"She looks at me when I talk and really hears me"
"He smiles and knows who I am, really knows who I am!"
"She sees me - not the me everyone else sees - me"
"He knows when to push and when not to push"
"She knows what I need even when I don't"

Relationship building is not easy. It takes time and the belief that relationship matters. It has to matter to me what you need. I have to want to make that more important that what I need. Relationship building is the foundation for the other R's - reading, 'riting, and 'rithmatic. Without it we learn for the moment and not for a lifetime.

When you think back to the teachers who mattered to you in your life - what was it about them that sets them apart? I can almost guarantee you that it had something to do with the fact that they saw YOU and knew you.