Paving the Road to Learning

How do we build relationships with students?  I had the opportunity to visit 3 of our schools today and saw witness to that magical connection that establishes an atmosphere of care, trust and respect.  This sounds like a little thing, but I saw written student instructions that invited students to “choose a desk that is the right size for you”.  Honestly, I remember having to sit in alphabetical order as a student in school.  Forget about accommodating the physical needs of students.  Or at minimum, it seemed to be the mission of the teacher to be sure to “split up friends”.  In those days it was control, control, control.  We have come so far in co-creating classrooms where students share the responsibility for many things that were traditionally the sole business of the teacher.

I listened to students this morning in a variety of  “get to know you” conversations and activities with their teachers and educational assistants.  Kids were interested in things like asking the teacher if she has a nickname.  Another class reported their one rule for their classroom this year – Respect!  In another classroom, a teacher confidently invited a student who she knew very well from last year to model for classmates in her new combined class, how to greet a guest to the classroom.  The young girl approached me, shook my hand and welcomed me.

Today, I was reminded that sorting out indoor and outdoor shoes is important to 7 year olds and establishing routines at the beginning of the year provides unlimited opportunity to make deposits in the emotional bank accounts of our students. There were smiles, hugs and lots of  “reconnecting”.  There was a teacher making a point of telling me in front of the student what amazing progress she made in phys.ed. last year!

It’s a wonderful feeling for parents to walk away from our schools trusting that their children are in good hands – that they will be cared for, well beyond their academic needs.  Every interaction, every day with every child needs to reinforce the value that we place on students.  Many times it is the little things that make the biggest difference.

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10 Responses to Paving the Road to Learning

  1. gcouros says:

    Thanks for sharing this Kelly! It is amazing that when we see the true value of our students as people, and how important is to build those strong relationships, educators get so much more out of the deal than I know that I even expected. Those little things are so important and I thank you for reminding us of that.

  2. Gary Brown says:

    Kelly, I love nothing more than getting out into our schools and witnessing exactly the things you did. Absolute privilege. Increased student voice and changing relationships between teacher and student key elements of learning for toady’s world. Congratulations to your schools – they are obviously caring, contemporary places of great learning. Thank you for sharing. I love this line “Every interaction, every day with every child needs to reinforce the value that we place on students” – so true. Think it needs to be shared with my twitter friends!

  3. Hi Kelly,

    Thank you for sharing these stories. As an employee at Alberta Ed…and an “IT person” at that, I feel doubly removed from the day to day goings on at schools. Reading your post reminds me that technology can only go so far in supporting learning – it’s really all about people…and it helped me reconnect to the sense of purpose that keeps me working in the education field.

    Your stories helped me vividly picture scenes of kids and caring teachers. That’s imagery that can keep me going for a long time.

    Thanks for making an indirect emotional deposit for me.

    • kdwilkins says:

      Indirect deposits are great! For more stories from the trenches, follow some of the exciting things happening in PSD.

  4. Kelly,

    I was great to see you at SPC today! I think it made both staff and students feel special to have your support on our first day of school. This was one of my favourite “first days” in 10 years of working at PSD. Hopefully we’ll be seeing you often. Its going to be a great year!

  5. Wow! I missed the first day of school today because I am currently a stay-at-home mom…. but I am anxious to return to the classroom where I can touch the lives of students in the ways you mentioned above… how simple, yet empowering, to have students choose their own seat… to have students become leaders on the first day as greeters… and to have parents feel at ease that their precious kids are in good care.

    Thank you for a post that made me smile:)

    • kdwilkins says:

      Hey Preet, thanks for your kind words. Nothing like being a teacher and a mom – don’t underestimate the lives you are touching today!

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