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Building Relationships

At the end of last school year, I hesitantly gave my students a survey to gauge their feelings about me and the school year.

It can be a very humbling thing to read another person’s opinions about you.

One of the comments that struck me the most and, quite honestly, was the most painful to read, was that, “I should get to know my students better.”

Granted, this comment came from a young man who’d only joined my class that January.  He’d been the quiet sort, and I’d tried to respect his right to be aloof.  I had not wanted to pry.

I should have tried harder.

It was a lesson I took to heart.

This year has been different.

I already had a relationship with some of the students because I’d taught them last year.  I’ve been using this foundation and have been building upon it to create relationships that go beyond the superficial, “How are you doing today,” to more personal queries.

I think that, for the most part, my efforts are paying off.  The kids I teach are desperate for attention and affirmation that they are not just numbers in the system…that they are worthy of care that is individualized.

I take this part of what I do very seriously, which is why an incident that happened in my classroom today affected me deeply.

Without going into too many details, two of my students in one of my classes got into a disagreement.  At first, I thought they were kidding around; however, one of my students got pretty miffed, and he would not stop talking about it.

The other student had called him a name, and things escalated.

Fortunately, the disagreement did not go beyond words; however, I was at a loss about what to do.

Being a teacher is similar to being a parent.

You have to make judgment calls at a moment’s notice, and this can be a difficult thing.

I didn’t want to take sides, because I didn’t want either student to think I was playing favorites.


The student who’d been called a name rambled on and on and on and then sat in his chair, refusing to work.

It was not a good situation.

I tried calling my friend, Barb, who comes to the rescue of all of the Reading teachers.  She will not allow anyone to interfere with the learning process in her Reading classes.

She didn’t answer.

I hesitated when I thought about calling an administrator.  I’d just attended my weekly Fred Jones class, and one of the things that had struck me was that problems do not get resolved outside of the classroom.  In fact, many students who misbehave do so just to get OUT of the classroom.

I tried to call the student’s mother, but I couldn’t reach her.

Finally, I sent Barb a text.

“I need help,” was all I said.

She was there within five minutes.

I explained what had happened and my hesitancy in writing a discipline referral.

This was, after all, one of my favorite students who NEVER EVER gives me a problem.

She took him to her office, and they had a chat.

A little while later, she called me.

She’d sent him back to me, but she wanted to explain that she thought she’d figured out what was wrong.

When you’ve been teaching ever since there were dinosaurs, you’re good at getting to the root of kid issues.

Just sayin’.


Anyhoo, my sweet guy had gotten upset because I had not defended him in front of the other student.


That hurt.


Barb told him that I probably had not wanted to call the other student out in front of the class and would be dealing with the other student at a later time.

Still, my student had been disappointed, and that hurt me.

When he returned, he was okay, and I asked him to stay after class.

He did, and we had one of the most honest talks I’ve ever had with a student.

He’s the last of his mama’s four children.  Circumstances have happened so that it’s almost as if he’s her only one.

He’s close to her, and he is doing his best to turn his life around…trying not to get into trouble at school…trying to help her be as stress-free as possible since she has a demanding job.

He teared up as he talked about how much he loves his mother.

Oh my.





He’s also very mature for a ninth grader.

I explained my angst at deciding, on the spot, how to handle the situation, and I will admit that I teared up.

I told him that I care for ALL of my students.


It was an emotional few minutes.

We got things straightened out, and I sent him on his way with a late pass to excuse his tardy arrival to his next class.

He was smiling when he left, though, as was I.

But my heart was sad too.

I carried that sadness all the way through my day, and it affected my other classes.

Oh sure, the kids were a bit squirrely today.  It was Friday, and the holidays aren’t that far away.

Still, though, I usually exude joy when I teach.

I truly love what I do and enjoy being there…especially since a hammock in Hawaii isn’t looking like something feasible since I didn’t win the Powerball.

Teaching is such a draining profession.

Teachers who care pour their hearts and souls into every moment of every day.

We stay up late.

We reflect.




We carry these children around with us and wonder how we can make things better for them.

Sometimes we can’t do a single thing.

Sometimes we can.

That’s what many of my days are like.

Well, not the sadness, but the weight of the responsibility that descended upon me the moment I earned my professional certificate.

It’s not something I take lightly.

The heart of my Fred Jones lesson yesterday was about building relationships with your students…creating an atmosphere of trust…where students know that teachers will be consistent.

I hope that my students know that I am here for them…that no matter how happy or sad or frustrated I may feel, that I’m here…every day…ready to build on what we started from the first day they walked through my classroom door.

One Response

  1. Reblogged this on Keepin' It Real and commented:
    An awesome post I read…

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