WHY relationships? This blog is co-written with my colleague and friend Chris Tuttell. How else could this piece be written on relationships?
“Relationships are the runway.” Yes! Let’s think about this….
Melanie: When I think “Relationships” I think about what that means globally. It means my connections with my peers, students, parents and the space around me. Relationships are the building blocks to becoming better. Without relationships growth is slow, learning is stunted, and isolation is felt.
Feeling connected to the teachers at my school are relationships I’ve had to earn. As an Instructional Technology Facilitator, I made the mistake four years ago, thinking I could jump right in and begin changing the way teachers taught by adding technology into their curriculum and lessons. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Most teachers saw me coming and walked the other way. Not because they disliked me but because they looked at me as more work, more time having to revamp lessons, more time implementing technology they knew nothing about.. all this, all alone. During year 2, after not getting very far with the staff, I was frustrated and deflated. How was I going to help the students #becomebetter if i can’t reach the teachers? I couldn’t figure out what I was doing wrong. I sat down with my principal and asked for help. I asked for help on how to connect. “You have to go slow to go fast,” she said. Go slow? Wait? What? Slow wasn’t part of my vocabulary. But not having any other options, I took her advice. I slowed down on trying to bulldoze into every PLT, every PD, every Early Release. I reached out to a few teachers who were interested in working with me. I built a few strong connected caring relationships. It felt good. I felt good. They felt good. But most importantly STUDENTS were benefiting from our relationships! It was the beginning of going slow to go fast. I realized that without the relationship there was no trust. Without trust there was no open door into their classroom. Without the open door, there was very little I could do to help in the learning.
Chris: When I think “Relationships” I think about what that means in terms of students. Like Melanie, when I became and Instructional Technology Facilitator I wanted to jump in and plow ahead FOR THE KIDS. I was so focused on changing the learning landscape for every student, in every classroom and I wanted everyone to want that! What I quickly realized was that my sense of urgency was not the same as everyone else’s. While I have always nurtured my relationships with students, if I am being honest, I haven’t done the same with the adults in the building. I know my problem and that is the first step, right? I am so focused on my mission that I tend to come across as a bit overzealous. And while I know Melanie is right, I have to build trust or there is no progress. I still struggle with the urgency part. How do you push people to change their pedagogy or move out of their comfort zone and build the relationship at the same time? It all moves too slow for me, I lack so much patience when it comes to kids and their learning — So how do I find the balance and build stronger relationships without compromising my ideals?
Melanie: How do we build stronger relationships? This is a great question Chris asks. We could probably list a dozen ways to build relationships, but I want to talk about one way that Chris has started to build relationships…through a culture of joy…this started with chocolate chips! Listen and read here for more on #KudosKookies:
Thank you for reading and listening to a stepping stone into what building relationships mean to us. We believe it is the first step in the journey to amazing things. How will you build your relationships? Start now! Let’s do it for our STUDENTS! #KidsDeserveIt
Innovation will never happen in education if we do not first focus on relationships. They are the most important thing in any organization, so how we connect with others, and build culture, will always be first and foremost. How we create a culture of yes, and focus on developing school teachers vs. classroom teachers, is crucial to success moving forward.