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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in teacher-student relationships

Posted by on in General

One afternoon, a week before the end of the past school year, I was washing my hands at the classroom sink.  When I was finished, I turned to walk to my desk.  Instead, I slipped on a pile of student backpacks left sprawled about on the floor and soon found myself sprawled out next to them.  

I tried to play off the pain that was shooting from my right hand to my elbow and all the way up to my shoulder.  It was bad enough that my ego was bruised and on display for thirty seventh graders to see.  I really didn’t want to admit any other bruising that may be emerging as well. 

Workman’s compensation papers completed, I headed to the assigned clinic where I was quickly examined and then prescribed several sessions of physical therapy.

A few days later, I arrived for my first session.  The therapist walked into the lobby and called my name.  He asked, “Do you remember me?”

I am embarrassed to admit: I remembered his face, but my brain could not quickly supply his name.  It turns out that my physical therapist, Dr. Brandon Olson, was once a student in my fifth-grade class – twenty-four years ago!  Ten-year-olds grow up!  They change!

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Last modified on

Posted by on in General

The final day of another school year has quickly come and gone, and summer vacation is but a few hours old.  The desks have been cleaned and stacked.  The books have been packed away in cupboards.  Student work has been taken down and handed back to kids to either take home or add to the recycling bin already bulging outside our classroom door.

And the kids have all left the building in search of many exciting adventures far removed from school.

This final day of school lasted just four hours.  Some of the kids did not even attend.  I anticipated a morning filled with noise and unruly, reckless behavior.  But, for the most part, there was no commotion.  Our students sat on the floor and played Uno and Connect Four.  Others listened to music on their phones.  Some signed yearbooks.  Some simply talked and laughed.

I have learned to sit back and observe, to listen, to learn.

All of my check-out items had been completed earlier in the week.  There really was not much else for me to do.  So I listened. 

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Last modified on

Posted by on in School Culture

Kids will not work for you unless they trust you.  If they trust you, they will enjoy being in your presence.  The longer they are in your presence, the easier it will be to form lasting, productive relationships.  And the more genuine relationships you have in your school, the more positive your school climate will be.

Building relationships with your students takes time.  The process takes a lot of conscious effort.  It involves a million little conversations and compliments and moments of caring and concern and celebration.  It includes laughter and sometimes disappointment and a few tears as well.  

I spend my entire day talking to kids – in the classroom, in the hallway, on the way to and from specials and lunch and recess and assemblies, in the cafeteria, and at the front of the school as they are leaving for home.  I believe that all of those mini-conversations make a difference in making kids feel as though they are noticed, as though they are appreciated, as though they are loved.

This morning, as I took a short break from testing, I headed to the office for the restroom and then to check my mail.  I heard my name called and turned around to see Ivan leaving his testing situation in the library.  

“Mr. Ramsey!” the boy called.  “Where are you going?”

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Last modified on

Posted by on in General

My seventh graders were in the process of researching information about Jackie Robinson in order to create an expository essay.  Together, we were reading the book, 42 is Not Just a Number, by Doreen Rappaport. 

In the first chapter, the author writes of how Robinson's family did not have much money when he was a child. Some nights they had bread soaked in milk or water with sugar. I explained to my class that my family had often eaten some very limited meals as well, but as kids, we didn't know that we lacked money.

I have always believed in the power of storytelling in a classroom.  Equally important to me is sharing about my own life so that my students can see that I am indeed a “real” person and not just a teacher who gives them writing prompts each week. They know that I haven’t always been Mr. Ramsey, that I was once “Little Timmy” who drove his parents crazy on a daily basis.

I don’t believe that teachers need to “bare their souls” and share every detail of their lives.  But I do know that there is great value and relationship building when students can relate to their teacher as another living, feeling human being. My students alternate between narrative essays, expository essays, and persuasive essays roughly every two weeks.  By the end of the year, they have written several of each genre.

During those weeks, we also focus on several mini-lessons revolving around language, vocabulary, and technique.  For this time around, I wanted the kids to start thinking about how to infuse their voice into their work.

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Posted by on in General

2:55 p.m. 

Kids moving out of the room at one door, homeroom kids entering at the other door.  Everyone talking at the same time.  Everyone moving at the same time. 

“Can I go to the restroom?”

“Can I go see the counselor?”

“Can I go to the library?”

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