Monday, August 31, 2015

The Content Can Wait

Today is the fifth day of school and for most of my staff they are just beginning to introduce their content to their classes. And for that, I am ecstatic.

Relationships first. That was the message that was sent loud and clear to my colleagues prior to the first days of school. We agreed that we would have to create the foundation to ensure that students are in an environment in which they believe in. The teaching staff worked collaboratively to embrace a space in which trust would be paramount. It was a agreed upon that the content can wait.

Whether you are in your first days of school or this is already the second week or beyond, I urge you to take a self-assessment of your first few days together as teacher and students and really determine the depth in which you got to know each other. And, if you dove right into content, step back, and give yourself permission to have a "re-do" and revisit some essentials. You will be glad that you did.

Building strong relationships through engaging and collaborative conversations and interactions during the first weeks of school with your students will do the following:
  • Create a sense of identity and belonging.
  • Foster compassion and provide a feeling of hope for a successful year.
  • Build trust and create a supportive space of trial and error.
  • Encourage risk-taking and a safe environment for teaching and learning.
  • Allows for the mindset of growth to take shape. Always a sense of willing and wanting to learn.
  • And, interactions are genuine and meaningful and allows for open communication to be ongoing.
Whether in your classroom or within your school, whether with your students or with your staff, why would you avoid the obvious? Trust, risk-taking, compassion and support are just the tip of what can be accomplished when building relationships becomes the priority and that essential foundation for your work.

There will be plenty of time to cover the content. But content will be the furthest thing from your day if you don't have a space in which everyone comes ready and excited to learn.