It's The Kids! OR 17 Ways to Build Relationships in the Classroom

Fellow blogger, Teach Paperless, wrote a post about ISTE and the current voting that is happening to see who will keynote the conference next year.

This quote from Shelley, at Teach Paperless, sums it all up:
I want the real thing. I want students to stand up there on stage and give us the low-down.

Then this article, Success Starts With Strong Relationships, from Edutopia, about tough love and relationships in school came up in my RSS right after Shelley's post.

I realized it's all about the kids and the relationships that we have with them. Whether isn't knowing your student's names or checking in on them in other classes or eating lunch with them. They are people and they crave relationships.

Today, I had a post-conference meeting for the observation that I had last week. The mentor informed me that 8 of my 25 students were in the room working on the warm-up activity while I was at the end of the hallway greeting students before class started. Eight students coming in and working without being told! Relationships lead to motivation (motivation is a different blog post).

What do I do to build relationships?
  • We play document camera boggle to increase vocabulary. I cheat. I'll admit that. I rig the letters so that there are words that I want to focus on in class.
  • I routinely applaud (literally clapping) my students for the hard work during class.
  • I do random drawings for pencils and other small prizes.
  • I make activities relevant to them. We just did a small unit on designing, understanding, and using rubrics. We wrote rubrics on "Great Halloweens" to understand the concepts.
  • I shake hands.
  • I say hi.
  • I say bye at bus duty in the afternoon.
  • I listen.
  • I let them be off task as long as its a great discussion.
  • I laugh at and with my students.
  • I do my best to not yell.
  • I let them find solutions to their own problems.
  • I try to not kick students out.
  • We play games together.
  • We work together.
  • I do the work they do.
  • We treat each other with respect.
Am I perfect. No. On a five point scale of exemplary teaching, I scored roughly 3.7 by a mentor that I respect and challenge.

So, what's the bottom line? Build community and relationships in your classroom with your students because it will lead to better teaching and learning.