Do you work at building positive relationships in your school? Do you have time? Consider this scenario:
You’re a classroom teacher. You have 32 students – give or take. That’s if you’re fortunate enough to teach in an elementary setting with just one class to manage! You are provided with curriculum (maybe). There are at least two parents and/or guardians per child to whom to provide consistent and on-going communication, as well as progress monitoring.
On top of all this, you have to consider the individual characteristics of your students, along with social/emotional skills. There are seating arrangements to think about, since they are important to provide an optimum learning environment for all.
There are also classroom dynamics, behavior issues, teach, re-teach, absences, assignments that need to be reviewed, assignments that need to be completed, and assignments that need to be started.
It Never Ends
On top of all this there are:
- papers to grade
- projects to review
- formative assessments
- summative assessments
- school site obligations
- grade level obligations
- adjunct duties
- site committee assignments
- District Professional Development
- site PLC meetings
- District Benchmark testing
- State testing
- parent requested meetings
- teacher requested meetings
- parents conferences
- Report Cards, and… and…
You get the idea. Teacher obligations and duties are similar to the construction of a cable-knit sweater… it just goes on and on. Teaching is an emotionally and physically exhausting profession!
I have found that the only way to manage time in my classroom – with any hope of accomplishing all of our assignments and projects – is to build honest relationships with everyone! The power of positive relationships with parents, students, other staff and community members is that we all work together. None of us can do accomplish all of these important obligations alone. To cultivate those connections, I have found that relationship building actually begins outside the doors of any classroom.
The Best Way to Build Positive Relationships
It’s really not difficult. While on campus, I make it a point to say hello to everyone by simply engaging in conversation. The topic varies from person to person. It doesn’t matter if the student is mine or not or even if a parent is not one of mine. I talk to everyone. This has been the single most pivotal variable of success in building relationships. And not only with my students but with the general parent community as well.
I have known many teachers who would rather not have parent helpers in the classroom. They’re either worried about being scrutinized or possibility being misinterpreted. I remember when I first began teaching. I was certain I could manage it all. Boy, was I wrong! I quickly realized there is so much a teacher needs to do on a daily basis to teach all that is required. I found that by inviting parents into my classroom and accepting additional help where needed, I was able to free up more of my time to actually teach.
Over the years, I have adopted a ‘come one, come all’ approach to how I manage my classroom. Parents typically want to help so I tailor jobs for them to best fit and satisfy everyone. My students are happy that their parents are helping out in the classroom. My parents are happy because they are able to experience part of their child’s day. And I am happy because much was accomplished through a collective group effort and my student’s creativity is not hindered due to miscellaneous time constraints!
At the end of the day, teachers simply want to help these young, creative learners. Perhaps something we do for them or something we say just might be the catalyst to who they become or what they do with their lives. Building bonds with the parent community is something to be embraced. Even as our world of teaching and learning has morphed into what it is today and we wonder what it will become tomorrow, we need to remember:
We really are ‘better together’.
Dolph holds a Bachelors of Science, Product Design from Art Center College of Design and a Masters degree in Education. Dolph has spent most of his teaching career as a 6th grade teacher in the elementary school setting with a focus on Gifted and Talented Education, and is currently teaching 4th grade in Fullerton, California He is married and is the father of Bonnie and Clyde, Golden Retriever littermates, one cat and two American Quarter horses.