While on Facebook last week, I noticed a teacher posted an activity she just tried out with her students that sparked a deeper connection between her and the class. This is the post I read from elementary school teacher, Natalie Childers Jager:
I tried something new in my class this week that my kids are just loving! It’s called “Tea With Me.” I took a cute little tea set into my room and each morning I brew a pot of Hibiscus tea. Then I choose one student and while everyone else does morning work, that one student and I sit at my work-station and have “tea” and a breakfast cookie. We chit chat… talk about whatever they want to talk about. Now everyone wants to have “tea”. So fun!
Natalie has discovered a principle I learned years ago, when I began working with students. While all teachers want to see results from their class, many fail to realize that great results stem from great relationships with the students. By this I mean, when a teacher works at connecting with his or her students at the heart level, they will often respond by working harder on assignments and striving to achieve or excel for that teacher. Effort comes from emotional connections in the class.
I have said for years that leadership is a potent combination of relationships and results. I believe the same is true for educators. I’m suggesting here that results follow relationships, like Natalie fostered in her classroom. When teachers push for results, yet never put any effort into knowing the students personally, it can actually backfire. (Some can pull it off, but not many). In one survey I conducted, a full 76% of students acknowledged that they “tried harder” on school projects when they knew the teacher liked them or knew them well. In contrast, almost half (47%) reported they possess apathy toward hard assignments when they don’t care about the teacher or feel the teacher doesn’t care about them.
I challenge you to try something this week. What if you treated results as a by-product and pushed rather for deeper connections with your kids? What if you did something every day to pursue knowing your students better? I am betting you’ll see them respond by pursuing those results you’ve been hoping for.