Nurturing Reflective Relationships in Your Classroom
Teaching is unlike any other profession. Even with the best of plans, things can go awry quickly.
Imagine starting off your day like the educator in this class:
It’s already 10:30 in the morning. Nothing has gone right so far in the classroom. Three learners missed the first hour of the day. Then more than half the class failed the math test. One learner threw up. Another had a tantrum.
When Jackie knocked over the homework bins and tossed papers everywhere, the teacher stopped and yelled at her for being so careless. How could she be so clumsy?
The other learners froze in place, wide-eyed and unsure of what would follow.
This scene is repeated in more classrooms than we’d like to think. After all, like in this paticular situation, kids and educators are both humans. They have terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days. We all do, but we handle them differently.
How different could the day have been for everyone if they had had time to reflect instead of respond?
Why Do We Need Reflective Relationships?
We overcome the negative in our lives by developing a positive outlook.
One of the ways to cultivate this outlook is by nurturing reflective relationships in the classroom. According to the American Psychological Association, creating a positive relationship in the classroom is the best way to support learners in your classroom. The rapport between an educator can learner can set learners on the right path to social skill development.
Reflective relationships begin by listening to others. Educators and learners want to hear each other’s perspectives. They work collaboratively to discover what works and what doesn’t. Developing reflective relationships is about helping each other be as efficient as possible.
Developing Reflective Relationships with Your Students
The reflective relationship is founded on a positive school climate. This climate must include support and safety. The environment must be a place where learners can take risks in learning. They also require emotional and academic support.
When nothing seems to be working in the classroom, call a timeout. Make sure kids who arrive late know that you’re glad to see them. Take care of anyone who becomes sick. If 50% or more of your students didn’t comprehend an idea or concept, it’s time to reteach. Maybe let Jackie know that accidents happen. Calm everyone by sorting the homework and putting the classroom back in order. Start over after lunch.
You can develop reflective relationships even when things are on the wrong track. Look for those learners who need your help.
The Harvard Graduate School of Education recommends relationship mapping to build positive educator–learner relationships. The goal is to connect every learner and, at a minimum, one positive, caring adult. The faculty—or even a team of educators—identify which learners would benefit from the relationships. Educators engage in the same reflection activities they’ll use with their learners.
When things don’t go the way we planned, it’s time to regroup. Take a moment to breathe. Reflect.
Reflective relationships consider what has worked in the past so everyone can move forward in the present.