Positive Relationships in Education
I have wanted to write this post for a while, but never seemed to get around to writing it. From the age of ten I have wanted to become a Physical Education Teacher and everything in my career so far has been done to achieve this goal. I remember my first PE lecture at Edge Hill University where Dr Graham Smith told us “teaching is one big stage and you are the actors, so make this act a good one”. I will never forget this, as it is so true, once you step inside school then your personal life stays at the front door and you become a professional actor! When I say actor I do not mean you dress up in costume for your lessons (well not everyday!) but you do become a positive influence over the young people you inspire. I was directed to this book (Link) at the early stages of my career and should be a must read for all teachers both old and new to the profession, as the best teachers never stop learning. It gives some great ideas on how to get the best out of your students. Everyones teaching and learning journeys will be different on how they came to where they are now, but one thing I have learnt is that relationships are crucial. Not only with students, but other teachers, admin, parents who help to create the learning environment for all to achieve. Now I am a very positive person and always look for the positives out of each situation.
I have mentored both old and new teachers and this has helped to see a lot of amazing lessons, but also a lot of not so amazing lessons. I have always been personally very open to feedback, though I have mentored some who are not so. I have a very open door policy when it comes to teaching as I have nothing to hide, but I know some teachers who have to have a months notice before an observation is allowed.
So what is my point?
I have never really found it hard to strike up conversation with anyone of any age, and this may be down to my life experiences so far. I have found that by being a positive individual it helps with creating that positive environment in which students are not afraid to FAIL.
This year especially I have observed individuals social skills and how they interact with people their own age and students in their classroom. I have been lucky enough to work with a variety of ages throughout my career either in teaching or coaching and know how important it is to get you point across using a variety of methods. Dr Graham Smith use to tell us that as a teacher you need to have a variety of hats on as a teacher and have all these different skills that allow you to become all of these different occupations (Teacher Hats). Teaching is not how it use to be where teachers walked into the classroom, lectured, students listened and then did a test to see how clever they are. Teaching has evolved and you need to have a variety of different skills, but communication should be high on that list.
The way people speak to one another, or don’t as the only communicate through email, can be frustrating. I have always been very patient with people and been told I am a good listener, which helps me to think about how I am going to respond to different scenarios. I have had the pleasure this year of working with a member of admin who has shown me how important it is to have good positive relationships both in and outside of the classroom to allow others to achieve. He has shown that by having these positive relationships there is little to no behaviour problems, homework is handed in on time, and students respect the member of staff. I cannot say that for everyone. So what does it come down to ? In my opinion it is communication and a mutual respect.
According to the American Psychology Association (link) to develop positive relationships with your students the following needs to take place:
- “Show your pleasure and enjoyment of students.
- Interact with students in a responsive and respectful manner.
- Offer students help (e.g., answering questions in timely manner, offering support that matches students’ needs) in achieving academic and social objectives.
- Help students reflect on their thinking and learning skills.
- Know and demonstrate knowledge about individual students’ backgrounds, interests, emotional strengths and academic levels.
- Avoid showing irritability or aggravation toward students.
- Acknowledge the importance of peers in schools by encouraging students to be caring and respectful to one another.”
So if this is not happening in your classroom, maybe it should be worth thinking about during your summer break.
“You improve your classroom climate by modeling positive, supportive communications skills and by teaching these skills to students. The great majority of interactions in classrooms are among students. You can influence and encourage respect in these interactions by teaching positive skills. Lessons in listening actively, using “I” messages, and negotiating conflicts show students how to treat each other with respect.”
Campbell, 2014 (link)
“What makes a good coach?”
They would then have to draw one animal part that represented each characteristic and then explain the whole animal and what each part means to them. This could be done for teaching at the start of the year to show what your classes think is important to them. Some of their ideas were amazing.
I would like to finish with a video that had a positive effect of me. Everyone in your class should feel respected and that they are worth something as they come to school to feel amazing.
1. What does your classroom environment look like? What is important to you?
2. What strategies have you found to be successful in creating your classroom environment?
3. What is most important to you and why in the classroom?
4. What hats do you wear and how does that impact your teaching?
5. What is the most important hat to your students and why?