Monday, November 16, 2009

52 Teachers, 52 Lessons #36: It's All About Relationships

This week's entry comes from Lindsey Croston, a middle school math teacher from Florida:

It’s all about relationships.

And not the crazy scandal kind that make us cringe when we see on TV. It’s about the relationships that we build with co-workers and administration, with students as their mentors and the people shining light on their path toward knowledge. It’s about the relationships we build with parents as we band together to get the students who sometimes act like nincompoops to wake up and realize that there’s more to life than texting and Twilight.

As we build positive relationships with those around us – professionally and personally, we start to see change come about. It may be minuscule, but suddenly knowing that the student who’s constantly falling asleep in class is doing so because he was working late to help his mom pay the rent, or the co-worker who’s a bit snappy on Mondays because her weekend really sucked and she’s stressed because her kids just aren’t getting it – for the 3rd or 4th week in a row helps us to respond appropriately – to offer the words of encouragement that help make the world a better place. Then, hopefully because of the relationships we’ve built, when it’s our turn to have a crappy day, someone will notice and lift us up.

When it all comes down to it, teaching is just as much about passing knowledge as it is about changing the world one person at a time. As teachers we see so many students come through our doors, and then walk right back out. It’s impossible to think that as an individual you can reach all of them, and I’m not encouraging a martyr complex, “No man is an island,” and without relationships, we’re just rocks in the sea. It’s imperative that we connect with others – unless we connect with our students, they can’t see the passion that we have for the knowledge we’re imparting to them.

Lesson plans pile up, papers get graded or file-13’d, legislation comes and go, programs get funded and then cut. There are so many things that as teachers we can’t control. What we can control is making sure that each student knows that no matter how much he/she may get on our nerves or drive us batty, we still care about them and want them to do their best. We want them to succeed – as I tell my eighth graders, “I really like you, but I don’t want to see your face next year.”

So take the time to build a relationship with your students and your co-workers. Will you get as much done on planning? Probably not. Will you have the opportunity to smile or make someone else smile? It’s pretty likely. It might sound a bit like a Hallmark card, but really, relationships with others are what makes our profession worth all the blood, sweat, money and tears we pour into it.

Read more about this project here, then email your entries to teachforever AT gmail DOT com. Week 37 is scheduled for next Monday, November 23rd, but at press time there is no submission to fill that slot!

As promised, the download
version of Ten Cheap Lessons: Second Edition will be available for free all day today!