Relationships are the foundation to learning and growing together. Therefore, it’s important to clarify…
10 Myths About Relationships:
1–Relationships are easy.
The USA divorce rate still hovers near 50% (which is waaay down from 62% very recently, mostly because people are living together and not getting married as much). And kids also have many needs that may not even surface in our learning spaces. Relationships can be very hard.
What’s concerning is that educators usually only post the good stuff. Where are the tweets and blogs about the journey of one relationship not going well, seeking strategies for help?
This matters big time, because if educators believe everything they read, they’ll develop a false sense of reality, and even have self-doubt when all is not well in their world, when everyone else looks like they have it all together, and they don’t.
2–After the first two weeks of school, relationships are set.
When students and teachers barely know each other at the beginning of the year, and everything is new, it’s easy to have fun with icebreaker activities.
What’s rarely posted are the middle-of-the-year and end-of-the-year updates: when the going gets tough; when life hands families, students, or educators another hard knock; and when students and teachers are held accountable for their learning and teaching. Do relationships change, persevere, and strengthen over time? Or are they one-and-done?
Having these conversations matters, because we need to have strategies in place and know how to endure the hard times, too–And maybe even more than just the good times.
3–Relationships are only for kids who appear to need them most.
Every person on earth is going through something that we know nothing about. Many kids (and educators) do everything they can to hold it together to look a certain way in front of teachers and friends at school, when they may be ultimately hiding behind a facade of high anxiety, eating disorders, challenging home life, depression, neglect, fear, hurt… at all ages and in all walks of life.
4–Relationships are about the educator.
Students don’t go to school to make educators feel good about themselves. Students don’t go to school to move mountains for teachers. It’s not about us. It’s not about what kids can do for adults. Educators are here to serve students.
5–Relationships gain value when educators take the credit.
Educators who have the best relationships with students and colleagues don’t have to brag about their relationships–Their students and colleagues do that for them, naturally.
6–Relationships can be sustained through quick tricks.
While many forms of greetings, treats, and public praise strategies may be necessary to reinforce relationships intermittently all along the journey, they are not THEE journey. Relationships ebb and flow. They have peaks and valleys. Relationships include daily accountability, humility, perspective, flexibility, and saying I’m sorry. Relationships require deep investments of attention, energy, space, and hard work over a long period of time. They require one to care–A LOT–and for a long time.
The deeper the relational capacity invested, the more receptive and caring people are to accepting feedback, constructive criticism, discipline, and strategies to become better in learning and in life.
7–Relationships are a product.
In some jargon, it sounds like you can literally go buy a relationship off the shelf at the grocery store. Just so simple. Just do these five things, and you’re all set!
As the world, society, and life change, so do relationships. Learning and growing together is an ongoing process happening over a long period of time. Flexibility, endurance, and perseverance required.
Sustaining relationships is not just about having a conversation with a student at lunch–It’s about having multiple conversations with students every day. Effective educators follow thru, follow up, and finish strong.
8–Building relationships and learning content are always separate processes.
If you believe everything that’s posted, it may seem like once many are done building relationships in one silo, they can then enter the content silo to teach and learn curriculum. If only life was lived in separate compartments.
While it’s definitely necessary to establish solid relationships from the Meet the Teacher moment, the journey neither stops nor slows when even the most seemingly boring, abstract content is being learned.
We live in a spiderweb world, where relationship-building opportunities present themselves in sometimes unsuspecting moments every day, such as in the nooks and crannies within lessons, during transition times, at carpool or the bus loop, and in those one-on-one moments exchanging feedback through #4Cs processes and active listening skills, together.
Opportunities to strengthen relationships appear when students find personal avenues to express their learning in ways that are meaningful to them–AND–Because the relational capacity between students and teachers was not just started at the beginning of the year, but was also fulfilled a little more each day, feedback for deeper learning and meaning was also personally realized. And THAT can also strengthen relationships.
Growing relationships and content knowledge may occur simultaneously, as if interwoven like vertical alignment throughout the curriculum of life.
9–Relationships look the same in all contexts and can be fairly compared.
Relationships look different with people at various ages, grade levels, departments, and backgrounds. Relationship strategies that worked well in a fifth grade classroom may not work well as a specialist, an administrator, a director, or as a department head. What works well at one school may not work well in another community.
One size does not fit all.
10–Relationships Equal Learning.
Relationships do not equal learning. But building sustainable relationships can greatly enhance and transform student learning experiences, and even change a child’s life.
And that matters. Big time.