Magazine article Teach

RELATIONSHIPS as a Teaching Tool

Magazine article Teach

RELATIONSHIPS as a Teaching Tool

Article excerpt

I have lost count of the number of times I have been told that rules without relationships lead to rebellion. Yet today, relationships with students seem to be feared instead of embraced. Over the years, quite by accident, I have discovered that this precept from days gone by is critical to classroom rules and to learning itself. Relationships are an essential part of learning, especially relationships between teachers and students.

Educators interact with their students in two important ways: personal or impersonal. It is not difficult to understand that a personal interaction is better than an impersonal one. As a father, every instruction I give my children is impacted by many factors, but one of the more important ones is my personal relationship with them. I am their father; therefore, I have a growing relationship with them that motivates them to listen to me (well, at least most of the time).

As teachers, we often complain that our students do not listen, daydream too much, and talk while we are speaking. Whether we realize it or not, these are examples of students interacting with their learning environment, but often, to our frustration, their interaction is with the wrong part-each other. What I came to realize is, the interaction I demanded from my students was already taking place. The problem was not their lack of interaction; it was was how to become a meaningful part of their ongoing interaction.

Initially, I tried to control my class only with my voice. I would raise it when I wanted students to settle, and lower it when I was content with their behaviour. Unbeknownst to me, people absorb information through their senses, equally, with one exception: the auditory sense. According to Patricia Wolfe who wrote the book, Brain Matters: Translating Research into Classroom Practice, auditory signals are slightly different. They are recorded as an echoic memory and that requires more time to process than the other senses. I did not realize that by only using my voice, I was using the slowest sense to control my class.

So what is the answer to positively interact with students so that they learn? For me it became one word-relationships! I know what you are thinking, / have relationships with my students, and I believe that you do, but I am advocating something I call relational intentionality. Relational intentionality involves maintaining our authority while building relationships with students. It involves intentional actions. You could think of it as if it were part of the instructional plan. …

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