Megan Valois' blog post about 'being a cheerleader' for your students really made me think about what this can look like for teachers in primary and kindergarten. It also reminded me of similar situations and connections I've had with students in the past.
One year I had a grade 3 student who really enjoyed playing the 'bad guy' in a production of The Balloon Tree that we did for an assembly. He loved it so much that he asked his parents if he could join a local children's drama group and got a small part in their production of 'The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe.' One day he came up to me during class and said, "Miss, I get two free tickets for my play and I want to give one to you because you are the one who put me in our class play and that's how I found out I really like acting. Will you come?' How could I say no to an invitation like that! Just about made me cry!
At the time, I was commuting about 40 minutes to work each way, so on the Saturday of the play I drove back into the city and my daughter and I attended his performance. He was so excited that we were there and I was so excited to see him having so much fun.
Another time, a student asked me if I would come to her very first skating competition. I said to have her mom or dad send me the information, and if I could be there I would come. Her mom called me the next day, apologizing. "You don't need to come. I know you must be busy." I told her I'd be happy to come as long as they were comfortable with me being there. Once again, I drove my daughters into the city and we went to Stephanie's skating competition. I still got to spend time with my kids, they got to meet one of my students, and Stephanie and her family were happy to see us.
And my own girls still remember Miss Dianne, their child care teacher, who invited all the children from the child care to attend her big church wedding. There was a special section, right up at the very front, where all the kids and their families sat and after the wedding she took a huge group photo with all of them.
In addition to the importance of building relationships with our students, I think taking time to celebrate their achievements, to show an interest in the things that they are passionate about and to share our own passions helps to build relationships with families and with the community. When we attend a child's award ceremony, or play, or game, we represent all teachers. We remind everyone that teachers CARE about kids. The next time someone is 'trash talking' teachers - telling everyone how easy we have it with our 9 am to 3 pm day and summers off - maybe they'll remember a teacher in a cold arena watching their child skate or cheering on the basketball team from the sidelines and they'll know that we care.
These are just a few examples from my own experience. How do you build relationships and connections with your students, family and community?
Here are some resources about making connections with students: