Search the site

Growing Leaders Blog

on Leading the Next Generation


Results Stem From Relationships


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.


  1. Anne H. on April 30, 2013 at 10:12 am

    Human relationships are based off the fact that people are inspired by, work for, are friends with (you pick the verb…) by people they KNOW, LIKE and TRUST. People, no matter what age, respond positively to those they have invested their time and energy into, creating and developing the most important of these tenets…trust!

    • Tim Elmore on May 1, 2013 at 7:59 am

      I agree, Anne! Trust is key. Thanks for sharing.

  2. David Zirilli on April 30, 2013 at 1:57 pm

    Thanks for the great reminder. As a pastor, relationships with those I minister to have always been the most important part of the ministry. They don’t usually care how much God loves them until they see how much another person loves them.

    There is more and more evidence about the relationship aspects of spiritual growth. My dissertation on the spiritual development of children suggests that there are six types of relationships that are beneficial. Clearly the most important is their relationship with their parents. This provides stability and safety. I also found relationships with significant adults (teachers, pastors, coaches, etc.), peers (esp. as they get into their preteen to young adult years), relationship with themselves (sense of identity), relationship with God and relationship to the world around them through their life circumstances.

    Here’s my blog about it:

    Thanks for your article.

    • Tim Elmore on May 1, 2013 at 7:57 am

      Thanks for the post, David. We are undoubtedly made for connection, aren’t we?

  3. Jim Hamlett on April 30, 2013 at 3:15 pm

    This has long been the hallmark of good flight instructors, though we don’t have “tea” in the cockpit. Maybe a water.

    I was fortunate to get into a flying position early, so I blew past the need to get my instructor’s rating (the usual step pilots use for time building). Still, I’ve had many opportunities to help young pilots looking to build time by riding along. Nothing works better in the cockpit than a good relationship. And it’s not something that’s easy to teach. Like a good landing, you have to demonstrate it several times to make an impact.

    • Tim Elmore on May 1, 2013 at 7:55 am

      This is a great illustration of relationship building, Jim. Thanks for sharing!

  4. 피망슬롯 on December 15, 2020 at 2:49 am

    The only obligation to which in advance we may hold a novel, without incurring the accusation of being arbitrary, is that it be interesting.

Leave a Comment

Results Stem From Relationships