In Tara Martin’s book “Be Real”, she states that building relationships certainly take time, however, they are definitely worth the investment.
When our students know we care, then they are more apt to share how they are feeling on a daily basis. They feel safe to share their good days and bad days. They are willing to take risks when they know it is o.k. to make mistakes. There is a feeling of comfort when they enter the classroom. They see the classroom as a home and place where they can be themselves.
I truly believe that if we want to move our students forward and help them reach their full potential, then we must spend time each day getting to know them. We need to let them see that we care and we are interested in their whole being. When they feel they are important and that they matter it will build the trust needed to be successful. Tara Martin writes about morning meetings and how she used to check in with her students each day by having them rate their day – fist to five. This check in helped her to evaluate and determine the needs of her students on that given day. From there she could lead a discussion that would help to reach those students who needed a little extra care on that day. I connect to that so much because I do something very similar in my classroom.
After greeting all my students at the door, we meet in a circle for a morning meeting. First ,we go around the circle and greet each other. This demonstrates to the students that everyone matters. Then I check in with them and have them rate how they are feeling- similar to what Tara described. We spend a few minutes sharing our feelings or thoughts for the day. This conversation may then lead to further conversation usually driven by the students. During this short time I am able to gain a lot of insight about my students. This helps to guide my day and makes me aware of who may need a little bit more attention on that particular day.
All this time and investment that I put into relationship building assists me as I create high expectations for my students. They have learned that it is safe to be themselves in my classroom, it is safe to take risks and that I believe in them. Therefore, they want to rise to the occasion and do their best in all areas. It elevates their desire to want to be successful. I see tremendous growth throughout the year. But all that does not come without intention, effort and hard work on my part. The time I take (especially at the beginning of the year) to know my kids, pays off the rest of the year.