This week’s topic: In what ways do you connect with your students?
This is one – if not the most – important topics in this #youredustory journey. Connecting with students is at the backbone of education. We learn through connections. Connections are essential.
I no longer have my own classroom of students so my connections are different. However, on that note – regardless of whether or not you have your own classroom, you should be connecting with students. It is one of the largest shortcomings in educational administration. There are many reasons administration don’t have direct contact with students – from incessant meetings to loads of paperwork. But, to make the largest impact in education, we need to restructure our days so we have time to make connections with students and staff.
Five years ago, I left the classroom to become a district technology coordinator. After two years in that position, I knew I needed a changed. I had to be around students and teachers again in a learning role. So, I took the plunge and become an instructional technology specialist. However, after two months of limited student connections, I still knew I needed a change. So, I started some student tech clubs. Since creating the clubs, I feel I’ve improved as an educator. I am more aware of student needs. And, I’ve started to let them lead the show. In fact, the more I’ve stepped back and given them the instructional control, the more praise I get.
I have to do the same thing with staff now. As I start a new school and a new school year, I’ll start it all over again. For me, I cannot get buy-in for trainings and innovation if I have not made connections. So, I’ll spend this first year just making connections with students and staff. I plan on, once again, starting several student tech programs, running a student advisory, attending department meetings, and listening to the needs of students and staff. In fact, I’ve found the best way to build connections is to simply listen. Listening allows you to find others’ needs. Listening allows you to observe. When you observe you can begin to connect with others.
So, how to I build connections? I try to listen. I’m not always perfect, but everyday is a new try. I provide spaces for others to lead. I create an environment and then, step back.
How do you build connections?