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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in Building Relationships

Posted by on in General

Moving Day, Saturday June 8, 2019. Boxes and Teachers wearing Jeans, what a combo. 

Let me say this, about that.

Should Teachers wear jeans every day? Hmmm. Hot topic. Never thought much about it.

I never knew this is such a big topic for teachers. I read a great We Are Teachers article by Kristy Louden on June 6, 2019, posted by 'We Are Teachers' on Twitter. "Teachers Should Be Allowed to Wear Jeans Every Day & Here's Why". I thought it was an interesting read, so I shared it. That tweet now, as I conclude my thoughts, has nearly 65,000 impressions (hits), (update, Sunday morning, 84,000 impressions) so I am honored and grateful to have the opportunity to write for us.

The common thread for me, my takeaway goes right back to school culture, and likely, Maslow, basic needs, personal self-care needs being met. Perhaps we can go no further than to recognize a whole lot of teachers want to self-determine what they wear to school every day to perform at their best. Perhaps this whole discussion is really all about teacher autonomy and need for trust in our professionalism and decision making, I'm really not sure.

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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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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

Sergio seemed a bit out of it yesterday and today. He looked tired, sad...just out of it. I think I asked him about twenty times if he was okay. About twenty times he said he was fine.

Today he showed up the same way. "I'm just tired”, he said.

Sergio is one of my favorite kids. He is usually well-behaved, but he is a 13-year-old boy, so you can't expect perfection. He seems to be sort of an enigma...he's not one of the top students, he's not one of the bottom. He simply doesn't fit in any of the boxes we put kids into. He doesn't seem to fit in any of the cliques. He's not shunned by anyone...he just doesn't seem to be closely connected to anyone either.

One thing that sets him apart is his wonderful vocabulary. He loves words and loves learning new ones, the bigger the better. I love watching him play with the words that roll from his tongue. I love tossing new ones his way to see what he will do with them.

Seeing his head on his desk in homeroom, I asked him if he was okay. Of course, he denied having any problems. I let him be and continued with my teaching.

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