Take a moment to think of an adult from your childhood who had a positive influence on you. Think beyond your mom or your dad or other members of your family.
Who did you think about?
My guess is the majority of people are thinking of an educator in their life – a teacher, a professor, a coach. In fact, try thinking of a “non-educator” from your childhood who had a positive influence on you. I was challenged with this task recently, and though I know there are many exceptions for others (pastors, neighbors, scout leaders), I have difficulty thinking of someone.
Of course, when you think of why these particular people had such a positive impact on your life, I can confidently guess it had nothing to do with grades, homework, or tests. Why are educators so influential? Because they spend extensive periods of time with their students. They have the time to build positive and personal relationships.
As an educator, I know the importance of building relationships with my students, but I also know it feels as though my time continues to be eaten up by high teacher expectations and new district initiatives. The blended grade level approach in the ARCTIC Zone allows me an opportunity not many educators get – to spend time with students throughout their entire middle school career, three full years. Our first batch of ARCTIC Zone students just started their 8th grade year, and it is already so evident how our extra time together has impacted the development of positive relationships.
As A.J. Juliani said in a recent blog post, “relationships come from having opportunities for inquiry, challenging students, solving problems together, and doing work that is meaningful. But they also come from small side conversations, moments in the hallway, supporting outside of the classroom, and taking longer than expected to talk about an issue in class.” My personal goal this year is to make more time for building relationships with each of my students. Perhaps my face will be one that comes to mind for them when asked about an influential adult later in life. How rewarding to be in such a position.
A.J. Juliani’s blog post: “Relationships > Everything Else in Education”