Learning through connections.

A reliable working relationship between the teacher and student is vital to successful educational outcomes in a classroom. This means really cutting out some of the 9-5pm teaching. As teachers, we should all care and want to see each student succeed at what they do. Teaching is not just a job. At the moment, a student feels like they are just a number or that the work is just busy work the teacher has lost the students. People need to know that they are doing work that is relevant and that matters. I am so happy whenever students are working on their projects early, asking questions, wanting to know the course schedule early on. It may be a bit more work at times, especially since I have committed myself to other things outside of the classroom, but ultimately the pay off is amazing with what the students will be willing to achieve.

I always try to compare the relationship in the classroom to the core relationship that most people grow up with their homes, which is just one subset of the dynamic relationships that we all deal with on a societal level. If we are feeling safe and cared for then we will thrive within the family unit. The same goes with a student. They need to feel cared for and safe in the classroom and then they will be willing to explore more and do more within a classroom setting. This means teachers setting expectations high and challenging their students to meet those expectations in class. Teachers should also focus on providing the students foundations and structures within the classroom experience to allow them to authentically practice and gain feedback in a supportive and productive way.

With that said it takes time, situational consideration, and constant dedication to the course. Which means a lot of pre-planning in the classroom to make sure the objectives are clear, the curriculum is established, and all the material is ready to go before starting the course. By doing this, it leaves more time to focus on providing more opportunities to provide constructive feedback, focused instruction, focusing on particular needs of the course, and establishing a frequent and open communication channel between the students and instructor. It can be a lot of work upfront, but certainly less work during the course. Then of course after the class it is back to the drawing board to apply what worked well in the course and what needs to be re-evaluated for effectiveness in the classroom.

At the end of the day students want to know that the course is relevant to their lives, and assignments that they are doing are helping them learn. They want to know that the teachers genuinely care about them and want to see them succeed. That will then open the door to having the student feel safe in the classroom setting and ready to engage within the learning process. This is the heart of all the work a teacher does in the classroom and should be the very thing that we are all striving for as educators.

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