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

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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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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Posted by on in General

After more than three decades of working with kids from kindergarten to high school age,  I have witnessed many a behavioral outburst.  Occasionally, these incidents have been explosive, with a student striking out vocally and/or physically at his teacher or one of his peers in some attempt to openly rebel and assert his individual power.  These types of outbursts can potentially cause more harm to the well-being of others than to the angry child himself.    

A second type of meltdown is implosive in nature.  The most vulnerable in these situations is the child himself.  Feelings of depression, rejection, humiliation and hopelessness can lead a child to retreat into his own mind and melt from within.   

Sometimes you face kids who are imploding and exploding at the same time.

I was just about to get in my car and head to my weekly administrator's meeting, when my cell phone started ringing.  I balanced my pile of data in one arm and clicked the phone's green "accept" button with my free hand.  "Yes?" I hollered. 

"Mr. Ramsey," our school secretary, Valerie, began, "Mrs. Larrabee needs you by the eighth grade boys' restroom.  She says Louie is pounding his head on the sidewalk and screaming." 

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Posted by on in General

Building relationships with kids takes time and commitment on both sides of the equation.  A solid connection can be encouraged or fortified by a grand event – an open house evening, a “Donuts for Dad” or “Muffins for Mom” celebration, or a campus carnival – but such an event alone cannot create long and meaningful relationships.  The daily interactions of teachers with their students, with ongoing discourse between the two, is the only thing that I have found to be most effective in developing and nurturing lasting connections. 

Sometimes you just have to listen to each other’s stories of pain and sadness, joy and gladness, and everything in-between. 

By the end of the first month of school, I know quite a bit about a child’s life just from the continuous conversation he/she and I have had.  Tiny bits of information from numerous simple conversations while lining up, while turning in papers, while waiting for lunch, while passing each other on the sidewalk at the end of the day all help to bring us closer together. 

All of that dialogue has informed me of the child’s family situation – parents together or separated, number of brothers and sisters, favorite subject in school, type of pets, names of school friends, fears and worries at home and at school.  

I know each student’s favorite type of music, favorite football team, favorite color, favorite candy, favorite brand of shoe.  I know a little bit about each child’s interests and each child’s goal for the future.  All of these seemingly trivial pieces of information help me to carry on more conversations with each child and help me to further forge the bond between me and them. 

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