Thursday, October 8, 2015

Beyond Effective Instruction: How Authentic Relationship Building is Key to Success

I have heard from district conferences, professional developments, and from research that the most important aspect of a person's education is effective instruction by the teacher. However, I think that comes second. I believe that building a strong, authentic, and consistent student/teacher relationship is integral to maintaining academic achievement outcomes and fostering self-efficacy for students. Currently, I am in my second year of teaching mild/moderate special education. All of my students are the same,except for one. Already, I am noticing that the majority of my students are preforming at higher levels and are consistently putting more effort in a positive manner in their school work. Also, I'm hearing some of my students tell me, " Mr., you remembered when I told you I get silly and laugh when I'm bored or can't focus. You took me out of the class and spoke to me in the hallway and got me acting together again." I felt so happy to hear my students being self-aware and metacognitive of their behaviors. The student apologized and went back in the class and worked so hard using his accommodations/resources. I am seeing so many students being more organize, advocating for themselves, and making academic growth. Yes, the majority of my students are behind and I remember feeling like nothing will get them to where they need to be by the end of the year. However, I realized that as long as everyone tries their best this year and puts in 110% effort, then I'm fine with significant growth. Sadly, I feel that sometimes students don't have teachers that go out on a bridge and build a relationship. One of my students from last year is in high school now. I just learned that he was caught getting high in class and ran out of school the other day. The student keeps telling me, "Mr., no one gets me...they all get on my nerves and don't help me understand what they are teaching." I feel so much disappointment, yet I know this student needs more support. I remember this student turning it around last year and becoming one of my best students. I don't want all of our hard work to go down the drain. Therefore, I am advocating for him and talking to his mom to maybe get things worked out or in another school. I think to myself that see...this student might be getting good instruction that is "researched-based", but if there is not authentic relationship reach-out from teachers then the student doesn't connect to their education and loses self-esteem. I promised myself that I would NEVER let any former student of mine drop-out. I'll do whatever it takes to get the student back on track and graduate high-school. I've been monitoring all of the students on a web platform from our school district to ensure they are doing what they should be doing. My next step is to maybe meet with the student on a weekly basis and collaborate with his mom to ensure he is getting the services he needs to be successful in school. Finally, I want to end this blog on something positive. One of my students wrote me a letter after they said something very dis-respectful to me and it made me cry. The good type of cry. The last sentence said, " I know you always try your best to help me and I appreciate everything you do. Please know somedays I won't be my best, but I'll try my best for you." This, this makes the 15 hour days worth it and somehow I feel like everything will be okay.