The reality of it is, building without a foundation is somewhat pointless. If you start with the finished product without laying the groundwork, you will ultimately fail.
The same can happen with teaching.
You can have all the best learning intentions with well paced lesson plans and resources developed and prepared, but if you don’t put in the hard work first, all of it will be for nothing.
So what is the groundwork for teaching? What is the foundation from which to build everything else from in your classroom?
The relationship between the teacher and the student is vital in making a difference in that student’s ability to focus, to trust, to experience, and ultimately to learn. Some students thrive on this more than others, but that does not make it any less important that you build a relationship and rapport with each and every student.
Without it is pointless.
The Māori proverb is often bandied about around many schools, and yet many overlook it.
“He aha te mea nui o te ao. He tāngata, he tāngata, he tāngata”
What is the most important thing in the world? It is people, it is people, it is people.
And although we often refer to them as students, pupil, or children, it is important to remember that these are all young and growing people. They each have heartbeats. They each have spirit. They each have fears. They each have strengths. They each have backgrounds. They each have futures.
Students who can trust you will follow you. Students that feel valued will value what you say. Students that have a place to belong will do anything to be a part of that. Students who feel they are a part of something will welcome in new ideas and new learning. Students who feel relaxed also feel comfortable. Students who are comfortable become confident, and confidence leads to taking risks. Learning new things always requires a big risk.
Relationships do not happen overnight. They take time. Little moments can go a long way over the course of a year. Do not give up on them and just jump into the curriculum, all the lessons, assessments and the “learning”. Instead, focus on the relationship building each morning, each afternoon, and use each lesson as not only a learning experience but an opportunity to share time with your students. Get to know them. Get to know what makes them tick and what ticks them off. Get to know what their fears and dreams are. Get to know what they find funny and what upsets them. Understanding these things is like mixing and laying the concrete foundation for your building.
By building relationship we can engage. By building relationship we can inspire. And by building relationship we can unleash.