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Making Connections

posted Sep 1, 2019, 5:36 AM by HSD Principal
We are far enough into the school year that you likely have begun to develop relationships with your students - hopefully High School Retreat and homeroom sessions have helped that. But there are probably still some students with whom you are struggling to make relational connections. Earlier this year, Leslie Cyr wrote about 8 Ways to Connect Effectively with Your Students

Read the whole article (it's short) for her explanations, but her top 8 list includes:
  • Find Common Ground
  • Celebrate Them
  • Know & Ask
  • Be Consistent
  • Listen
  • Communicate
  • Check Your Emotions
  • Care
Jennifer Gonzelez (Cult of Pedgogy) addressed a the same topic a few years back as she reviewed the book You've Gotta Connect by James Sturtevant. Again, the article is short and worth the read - and it includes an interview with the author if you just want to listen. Sturtevant's advice includes:
  • Drop the Nostalgia
  • Tell Your Own Stories
  • Learn Their Culture.
  • Keep Prying. Keep Persisting. Be Patient.
  • Run Toward Trouble.
And if you are looking to elicit feedback from your students to help build those connections, here is an idea sent to me by Brian. It was originally posted on Facebook by Julia Brown, but has since gone viral and was reported on by many different internet sources. I am imagining how many problems we could prevent from escalating if students had a regular venue to provide feedback like this.

A few weeks ago I posted about the “I need” box I was starting in my class. I wanted to give everyone an update.

If you recall, it was a way for my students to ask for help without having to come directly to me. They would write it on a card and leave it in the box.

The first week, two boys let me know about a bullying situation. We got it taken care of.

The next week I changed the format a little and starting having EVERY student put a card in the box every day. They didn’t have to write on it, but every student visits the box daily.

Since then, I’ve had a plethora of “needs” submitted. They range from specific supply needs, seat changes, special handshakes when entering class, after school help, bullying situations, and even daily hugs.

What’s even better is students are starting to come to me directly with issues/challenges they are having bypassing the box completely.

I’ve been teaching middle school for 15 years, and I can honestly say this is the best thing I’ve ever done to reach my kids this early in the school year.