Basics of Building Relationships

Hi, Sarah from There's No Place Like Second Grade here, excited to bring you a topic I'm very passionate about: building relationships. I firmly believe that building relationships with your students, their parents, and your colleagues is the key to success inside (and outside) the classroom.

I'm going to focus on some basics of building relationships with students in this post, as it's the most critical of the three -- and the most relevant as we're still learning our students likes, dislikes, and personal histories. For myself this year it's a little different; I already know my students and know them well, as we're looping together.

There were three basic things I did last year to build those relationships that ultimately led to me happily looping with my class:

1. Set aside time for socializing and sharing. One of our oral language objectives here in Virginia is being able to participate and share within a group -- use it to your advantage in building relationships! I liked to satisfy these objectives with "team time" on Mondays and Fridays. What we'd do is have ten minutes of "team time" where we'd share either what we did the previous weekend (on Mondays) or what we were looking forward to (on Fridays). Students would share within their table groups and have discussions, and I'd choose a table to "team" up with. This gave me a great insight to what students liked to do outside of school, or what their home life may be like.

2. Eat lunch (sometimes) with your kids. I'll be the first to admit that my lunch time is one of my sacred "me times" to breathe during the day. Giving that "me time" up seemed like the last thing I'd ever want to do, but a veteran teacher suggested I give it up once a week or every two weeks to eat with my kiddos in the cafeteria or in the classroom. I didn't do it as frequently because as a nursing Mom I needed that time, but I did make a point to do it a few times a month -- and boy was it eye-opening! The kiddos love to share with you, and they genuinely appreciate that you've taken your "me time" to spend with them.

3. Respond to their notes and love offerings. Sometimes the little notes, drawings, and flowers, seem endless. As you get into upper elementary they do this with less frequency, but it's still just as important (and perhaps more so!) to validate. If a student brought me a drawing, I'd sketch a little something afterschool or at night while watching TV and put it on their desk in the morning. If they brought me flowers or another little trinket as a gift, I'd write a quick thank you note. If it were a note, I'd use some of my personalized stationery I'd printed (made in PowerPoint!), and write them a note back. The students appreciated these so much -- and even the "hard to reach" kiddos began to engage in this give and take, not just with me, but with each other.

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