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The Power of Relationships

Nobody cares how much you know, until they know how much you care. - Theodore Roosevelt

Relationships are one of the most important gifts we have. To know and care for a person means a great deal. In fact, we go to great lengths to protect those relationships. I pose the question to you, what would you do for some of the relationships you have in your life? When we form a bond with someone, when we develop that connection, we strive to protect it, we go farther than normal to enrich it, we give trust to those with whom we have strong relationships.

If I may, I will share two relationships from my own life. When I was younger and still playing the field as they say, I began a relationship with a person. I had hopes for a romantic endeavor. As many will know, in those golden, early times, it seems magical; we hope for our own Romantic Comedy with a happy ending.

There are almost no lengths one will not tread. So, when I inquired what this newly romantic partner might like to do for a date, the response was - to go rollerblading. Now, I counted myself a skater in my early years, but that was on a board. I had not been since a grade school skate party, and this was rollerblading. Nonetheless, I bought the blades, the pads, a helmet, and all the necessary equipment. I was prepped and ready! We went rollerblading. I was a little out of my element. Soon thereafter, we went our separate ways. Suffice to say, my abilities did not win the day, nor her heart. Adhering to the age old adage, there are other fish in the sea, I sought to recoup some of my expenses by selling my equipment and went on searching for what the world might bring. 

Fast forward a few years. I met another potential partner; one I was rather excited for. I indeed wanted to build that relationship. So, to my chagrin, on one of our first dates, she told me she wanted to… you guessed it, go rollerblading. Did I break it off? Did I say no way? To the contrary, I was overjoyed. I wanted to make the relationship work, thus, there was nothing I was not willing to do. Having my mental shopping list prepared from a few years prior, I bought the blades, pads, and helmet yet again. Why? I certainly knew by this point I did not like the sport. However, I was interested in her. I wanted to strengthen the relationship. She was important to me, so that meant I was willing to try things even though I was hesitant. I knew, from past experience, this was not my cup of tea. However, I tried again because of the relationship.

Now, let’s relate that story to education. The foundation of the relationships we form is imperative. We need to build that type of investment with our students. We must show them we are in this together. That commitment, that level of trust can unlock the doors. Think just for a moment what we ask our students to do:

  • Try new new things

  • To feel encouraged, not discouraged

  • Trust us when venturing into the unfamiliar

  • To know it is alright to make mistakes

  • Do not give in to frustration

So, if someone were to ask you to do these things you did not have a relationship with, how would you feel? Would you be willing to take such chances? The foundation to learning is indeed the relationship we have with our pupils. The classroom is a wonderful place to make mistakes and ultimately, learn. In order to achieve this, trust must be built. This, of course, is determined by the strength of our relationship we have with our students.

Conversely, what about the importance of trust we have with colleagues, with our administration? Those relationships need a foundational relationship as well if we are to pull together. We are building a village. Of course this includes the students, but our colleagues, our principals, the superintendent, and the board. Just think of how we rely on each other. Ponder the necessities of a healthy, collegial relationship; these are a prerequisites to build a successful, communicative environment:

  • We need to be vulnerable

  • A safe space is essential

  • We must be unafraid to try, to fail, to return, adjust, and succeed

  • Invite suggestion from colleagues

  • Rely on each other

It is precisely the thing educators need to cultivate with one another and everyone under the same vertical school structure. For many districts, teachers fear a gotcha moment. Undoubtedly, we see the need for our students to trust us. In turn, we need to trust in one another. We need to be vulnerable with our colleagues, to be comfortable not having the answers, to seek advice from peers, to question policy, to problem-solve with administrators, to have an open dialogue with the board, and to feel supported by the superintendent. 

In the end, it is indeed the relationships we build in our schools that are the foundation of progress. We trust in those with whom we have a relationship. We must be bold enough to forge these bonds, to show our vulnerabilities, and to lift up one another. Trust is not easily won; indeed, it takes time. The hours spent in this regard will allow our efforts in building a better educational system to come to fruition. 

Again, I ask you, is there anything you would not do for those with whom you have built a strong relationship? We give to and are rewarded for the bonds we build in life. These extend beyond family and friends. It is this power of relationships that is the core of life. So, in turn, we must build relationships with our students, peers, and administrators in order to have a healthy, fulfilling career within our schools. 

1 opmerking

06 jul.

Great article! I loved teaching, and I formed deep 'trusting' relationships with my students.

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