What makes a great school? Who is in charge of making a great school? Is it the test scores of the students or is it the leaders that make a great school? Well, these are the common answers to this question. Great schools start with relationships and those are started with a simple, “Hello, how are you doing today?”
School culture is the air around you when you walk through the building. It is the attitude and perception when listening to students working in the hallway and classrooms. This “air” has a direct impact on all aspects of a school. It influences the wellbeing of students and staff both positively and negatively.
School culture is dependent on relationships of students and teachers, student to teacher, teacher to student, and student to student. Positive relationships create ease of understanding and learning around you where students are able to make mistakes without judgment.
Importance of Relationships in School Culture
Relationships are one of the most crucial aspects of developing a school culture. Beginning every school year, I am told, “Spend time getting to know the kids.” The reasoning? Relationships are the most important thing we can create with our students. That they are not alone and that we are there for them. Strong relationships are the foundation of great school culture. The students are noticed, appreciated, and challenged knowing they have the support of the teachers around them.
Relationships connect all stakeholders; it is a key role to play in school improvement and achievement for everyone. A positive environment lets students know they can bring a new voice to the table knowing they will be heard. With a positive school culture, we will be building lasting connections of trust and respect with each other.
Building a Positive School Culture
In a strong culture, the students will feel supported, safe, valued, and respected in their learning environment. So how do I build positive relationships with my students? Here are my 4 ways I have built positive relationships with students.
1. Genuinely listen to them
When they are excited to share something with you, take that moment and truly listen to them and acknowledge their excitement of what they wanted to share with you. I have also been known to ask students to write down their thoughts so we can look at them after class because sometimes they want to share during instructions.
2. Bring their desires into class.
When struggling to find something that excites a student in music, I have had them bring in what excites them whether it was soccer, video games, or art and we have tied it to our music standards some way. Whether it was keeping a steady beat with a soccer ball or analyzing the music in the video game or depicting sound using color theory.
3. Structuring Learning
Having structure in my class allows my students to relax because they know what to expect and they know they are safe. From the instructions being on the board in the same place to the materials being labeled and creating Essential Agreements in our class. These structures allow students to be the best they can be without worrying about where the pencils are.
4. Say “Hello”
Finally, taking a moment and saying, “Hello, how are you?” This simple act shows that you see them and that you value them as a human being. Giving them a moment of your time to be a part of their world shows that they are important in this culture and there is no better feeling than belonging.
Hence, relationships have a massive influence on school culture. An authentic relationship between students and teachers is necessary for the success or failure of the school. Successful school shows relationships based on trust between staff and students, and positive work culture allowing for all stakeholders to do their best without judgment. Positive relationships are the foundation of a successful school and a successful classroom.
So, how are you maintaining your foundation? What do you do to show students you care?
Please share below, I am always looking to improve my classroom foundation.