Educating children is not easy. Schools are under more scrutiny than ever before and pressure is constantly on. Progress is key. Data is everything.
When teachers are under such pressure and accountable for the progress of all children, taking time to plan, prepare and assess can replace time developing relationships with our students – especially those that we (wrongly) label “challenging”. However, building positive relationships is an essential task of good teaching for children to thrive, make progress, increase attainment and to connect with others. For relationships to be meaningful, interactions need to be warm, caring and responsive.
This ensures children feel a sense of security, well-being and belonging. Developing these relationships enables children to develop “social competence” – the ability to build positive friendships and the self-regulation of their emotions.Therefore, adults need to invest time and attention in building relationships. Long-term taking the time to build a relationship will save time – time spent implementing assessment and intervention strategy, including punitive measures – the opposite of what is needed to engage children.Relationships need to be meaningful. Thus, it is essential to gain a thorough understanding of the child, their interests, background, and culture. It doesn’t need to be over intellectualised and there are simple wins:
- Greet every child at the door by name with a handshake
- Listen to a child’s ideas and stories and be an appreciative audience.
- Have a conversation over lunch.
- Recognise positives.- Call a child’s parents to say what a great day had.- Send positive notes home.- Provide immediate praise and encouragement.
- Share information about yourself.
- Display child’s work.
- Play a game or play outside with the child.
- Call a child after a bad day and say “I’m sorry we had a bad day today – I know tomorrow is going to be better!”
- Tell a child how much he or she was missed when the child misses a day of school.
- Be consistent and patient. Relationships need trust and pose an emotional risk to children.
Teachers will begin to see the “ripple effect” of relationship building. As children learn in the context of caring relationships with adults, they will make progress behaviourally, academically, socially and emotionally.
@edu_wellbeing Deputy SENCO / Skills Centre lead – Southampton