Building strong, trusting relationships is one of our greatest classroom management tools. When strong relationships are present, not only does it reduce the likelihood that problem behaviors arise, but also provides the social capital we need to support behavior change. How are you doing so far this year in regards to knowing your students? Margaret Berry Wilson suggests all teachers conduct the activity below (which she learned from Don Graves) several times a year, as a litmus test for how well you are doing:
- Create a three-columned chart on a piece of paper or on a simple table/spreadsheet on the computer.
- In the left column, write your students’ names in the order in which you remember them. (This alone is an interesting activity –who do you remember first? Who do you struggle to remember?)
- In the middle column, write down one positive thing about each student that doesn’t have anything to do with school work.
- In the last column, put a star or checkmark if you have talked with each student about this piece of knowledge. This helps us recognize not only how well we know our students, but (perhaps more importantly) how well they know we know them!
studentsyou struggle to remember, or for ones you didn’t know much about, make a commitment to connect with them in the next week.
Conducting the activity helped Ms. Wilson realize that often the students at the top of the list, were the ones with problem behaviors. While there is much more to them, it takes work to see it. Taking time to do this important work, improves relationships, and helped her address the problem behaviors more effectively. This week, try it yourself and see.