By Anna Krieske – The Charter Personal Opinion Column
Albert Einstein once said, “It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge.” To influence students in a way that creates a love of learning, it is important to build a strong relationship between the teacher and student. For optimal mental, social-emotional, and academic development, a teacher must have a strong relationship with their class. If not, the student will suffer, and when the student suffers, hardly can it be said that the education system is doing it’s best.
To form positive relationships with students, there has to be a balance of many different aspects. These particularly include things like teachers getting to know students so they can be understood as individuals, as all individuals have different ways of learning. Equally important is allowing them to know you, as a mutual respect is important.
“For a positive teacher/student dynamic to exist, teachers must be reliable, respectful, and empathetic to students and their families,” says Rachel Levy of localschooldirectory.com.
These things, along with being careful to respect boundaries and privacy of course. I have seen these steps followed wonderfully, and experienced the positive outcomes of them many times here at ACA. I am very proud of my school, a school where I think an above average amount of the teachers are thriving alongside students, but I have also seen the opposite.
A student’s involvement in the learning process is crucial to learn, but the teachers’ involvement is just as important. Where as, in past times, teachers were expected to teach the same lessons to the same student, personalized learning wasn’t a factor. Now the education system has grown and learned preferable teaching methods; to form bonds with students and promote a love of learning, to be prepared to intervene or change their teaching style to make sure learning occurs.
On the topic, Jill Mohr, assistant director at ACA, said, “They’re (student teacher relationships) a foundation- and that all the lessons and contents builds upon that foundation… That relationship makes the learning environment something that is conducive to learning.”
This, I think, is one of the main concepts being forgotten. The goal of attending school is to learn, not to be able to say “we went through this book.” If the students finished a course on time but all got D’s, you can hardly say the job of a teacher was fulfilled.
Rather than focus on the negative examples I have witnessed even here, it seems it would be more beneficial to lift up the good examples. “if you go… in a proactive way… it opens up an avenue of communication, rather than if you confront then usually a wall comes up”, says Jill Mohr, Associate Director here at ACA.
Samantha Rands, a sophomore, tells how she once missed two whole weeks of school directly before a break where a lot of homework had been assigned. Missing four lessons, she didn’t understand any of it. She was at school one day over the break and ran into her teacher. Mr. Toth, who at that moment taught her those four lessons in his cubicle, taking time out of his day to help her catch up.
“(He) really saved me from a lot of stress,” said Rands.
Being a teacher means doing whatever it takes to help students thrive and learn. Sydney Heim said on the matter
“Mrs. Monte creates a safe and fun environment in every one of her classes and encourages her students to learn as much as they can,” Heim said. “She is the reason I am pursuing environmental science as a future career.”
The best way to gauge a teacher’s quality is how their students speak of them, and these students wanted to praise these teachers for their influence. Though ACA can rightfully take pride in the status of its relational positivity, especially through ESes, there is always room for improvement.
Educational Advocate for the Clackamas County Juvenile Department, Marcy Andersen, says, “For education to be efficient, there has to be relationship.” Andersen also has been a teacher in the past, who, to my knowledge, was well liked. Full disclosure; Andersen is my mother. She advocates and supports the disadvantaged youth who are involved in the justice system to help improve academic success, and can see first hand the effects poor teacher relationships have on the kids she works with.
“They (the students) are going to absorb more and it’s going to stick better if there is a relationship; which is a big piece that is usually missing in public school,” said Andersen.
I personally can attest to this theory, as I’ve learned more from my mother struggling alongside me than from a teacher teaching on many occasions.
The goal of this piece is not to undermine the role of teachers or to insult them as a group. Teaching is one of the single most important careers a person can take on, shaping and encouraging those who are children today but are tomorrow, our future. This being said there is a great burden as well, as educators have such a vast impact on the lives of their students. Some simply do not have the right set of skills to understand the different ways to connect with individual students and help them thrive. This is fine, as no one is perfect, but what is not fine is ignoring the great flaws that can be found. When the relationship between teacher and students suffer, as does the future.
STUDENTS- if you have a problem or praise for a teacher, SPEAK UP. Many are underappreciated and deserve kindness, and if you have a serious problem with a teacher or staff member do NOT be afraid to speak to someone about it.
Here is a small compilation of ways teachers and students can help strengthen this professional relationship-
- Respect- for any successful human interactions there has to be a mutual respect and understanding of positions
- Bonding- for a positive professional relationship to thrive there has to be some getting to know each other to better be understood as individuals
- Be positive- no matter the highs and lows of a classroom it is important to stay positive as to foster a beneficial environment
- Assume good intent- “i know they’re human like me, and humans make mistakes… I always assume good intent first, and then I like to talk to that person and find out (what happened)” says Mohr. Often times problems stem from miscommunication
- Be Honest- if something is wrong, always talk about it! Whether it be student or teacher, if there is a problem just talk to people
“My hope is that your generation is going to learn how to build bridges instead of walls because our generation has built a lot of walls”-Jill Mohr
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Lanier, Judith Taack. “Redefining the Role of the Teacher: It’s a Multifaceted Profession.”Edutopia. N.p., 01 July 1997. Web.
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“Adolescent Health.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 06 Oct. 2016. Web.
“Educational Psychologist.” Conceptualizing the Role and Influence of Student-Teacher Relationships on Children’s Social and Cognitive Development: Educational Psychologist: Vol 38, No 4. N.p., n.d. Web.
Personal Interview- Marcy E. Andersen, Educational Advocate and teacher, my mother
Levy, Rachel, Localschooldirectory.com. “Dos & Don’ts for Positive Student Relationships.”TeachHUB. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Feb. 2017.
“4 Beneficial Effects Of Positive Student-Teacher Relationships.” Pride Surveys. N.p., n.d. Web. 06 Mar. 2017.
Foley, Dave. “5 Tips for Better Relationships With Your Students.” NEA. N.p., n.d. Web. 06 Mar. 2017.
Personal interview- Samantha Rands, student at ACA
Personal interview- Sydney Heim, student at ACA