Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Relationships Trump Data

Those of us growing up in the card-playing era of Bridge and Pinochle really understand the value of trump cards. These cards rule in other words they have the most value. To be successful at these cards games you must not only having trump cards but also knowing how to play them. I see the same connection with the ingredients that make for successful students learning in our classrooms. Most of us as parents and educators would agree that planning, curriculum, data, organization, and relationships are essential elements successful teachers use to assist students with their learning. As an educator, my mantra over the years has been that to maximize our effectiveness as teachers we must make connections and build relationships with our students. As a principal, my charge to teachers was to have their students tightly bonded as a family unit by the end of the first three weeks of school. It is so affirming when one’s belief is validated by others and especially in this day and age of research based demands. Valerie Strauss of the Washington Post offers a new report from the Consortium on Chicago School Research at the University of Chicago giving key findings on the value of relationships in school. Others in education feel the same. Salman Khan on the Forbes Names You Need to Know: Khan Academy video has this quote, “Internet-based video lessons are great to help ….., but it takes a relationship with a real teacher to educate deeply.” This is why I believe the relationships you build with your students to be the number one factor in their successful learning while in your classroom. I observe most schools today living in a data driven mode. What do you think will promote the following: a warm, supportive classroom climate; students taking responsibility for their own learning; an environment where students feel safe, take risks, and make mistakes; a place where play in valued; honesty and openness is observed between students and teacher; and most importantly students that are happy and enjoy coming to school; data or relationships? The answer comes to me loud and clear: RELATIONSHIPS!

How would you rate relationships on your value scale? I look forward to your comments.

To help with building relationships @tombarrett offers this google doc: “20 Interesting Ways to Get to Know Your New Class”.
PS: As I am finishing this post on relationships, what should appear in my google reader? Mrs. Ripp aka @4thGrdTeach posting this: “Kids Shouldn’t Feel Like Tourists: How Every Classroom Should Be a Tribe”. This feels, smells, and taste like relationships to me. What is your take?

Monday, June 20, 2011

Summer Fun and Technology

Kevin Jarrett is a dynamo technology teacher in Northfield, NJ. He loves kids and technology. This is a perfect combo for connecting with his students. Knowing that learning doesn’t stop at the classroom door or when summer vacation comes along, Kevin is busy creating a fabulous site for kids to use during the summer. Here is the title of his recent post: Summer’s here. You’ve got plans. Amplify the fun with technology! He is creating a place to share FREE technology tools so that kids and their families can use the technology they have to create wonderful digital memories of the Summer of 2011. What an awesome idea. Don’t you just love teachers with passion!
Check out the summer tech fun at: http://tiny.cc/t7fp2 and then share it with your family. The first post is coming soon and he guarantees it to be a hit!
Photo Flickr - Creative Commons