Saturday, October 22, 2011

Building Relationships With Teachers

A recent Educational Leadership article by Robert Marzano speaks to the importance of the teacher-student relationship (click here for the article). He talks of developing strong bonds and knowing the social-emotional needs of the children in our care. Why shouldn't we apply this same standard to teacher-leader relationships?

These relationships can be built on personal experience sharing. People like people who care. What's the harm in asking about someone's physical or emotional woe? Why not check in with the family and inquire about vacation plans? I try to start each professional conversation, including post observations, curriculum meetings, and informal (sometimes impromptu) gatherings with personal talk that I will let last for as long as 10-20 minutes. I don't see this as detracting from the meeting; rather, I see it as a very important investment in the connection between me and the person with whom I'm speaking.

When teachers know their formal school leaders are compassionate, they tend to better understand and forgive the mistakes that can happen on the job. Building close relationships with people shows them you're human and capable of erring.

Consider relationship building as political capital building. The closer you become to your teachers, the better chances you have of being able to "cash in" political "chips" when you need to.

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