Ask any educator why they do what they do, and they’ll most likely respond ‘for the children’ without missing a beat. It’s why I was a teacher and why a lot of my friends were teachers. It’s the impact we can have on the children in our care that motivates us, drives us, and is the foundation of our passion.
I can look back and for every single class I taught, I can rattle off the names of the children who I had a super strong relationship with, and those that were on the other extreme–a relationship that was weak, or fragmented.
These days, I often find myself thinking about my time in the classroom. And, my mind will always wonder about the children I didn’t connect deeply with - for the myriad of reasons. I’m not sure if it’s because I feel guilty for not doing more, because I know there were factors that contributed to our poor relationship, and factors that put them at a disadvantage for later in life, or if it’s just my innate care and curiosity of where they are now and how they are doing.
Whatever the reason, I find myself now wishing I could turn back time and go back to those classrooms, and work even harder and fight even stronger to build those relationships because I know now from research how critical that relationship is to their long-term success. And, I now know that there are research-based tools and strategies that could have made it much easier.
Banking Time: Investing in Relationships is one such tool. This evidence-based strategy guides educators in planning short, yet intentional, opportunities to engage with a child one-on-one to foster trust and nurture the relationships.
With the newest Teachstone offering, Banking Time: Investing in Relationships, participants engage in an facilitated or online training course, get access to a video library showing the strategies in action, in real classrooms, and receive the comprehensive teacher manual, resources, and planning calendar to make nurturing stronger, more equitable relationships, easier than ever before.
In my second year of teaching, there was one child in my first grade classroom who from the very start I struggled to form a relationship. She was always off-task, interrupting others, choosing to read over doing work, and didn’t seem aware of how her actions influenced other children and even myself. I spoke to the teacher she had the year before. This teacher had a completely different perspective. She found her to be a great student, personable, and overall enjoyable to have in class. How could we be talking about the same child I wondered.
I decided to shift my perspective. I started to view her behaviors from a different lens. Interrupting others shifted to she’s so excited to share her own thoughts on this topic. Choosing to read over doing work shifted to she must be a great part of the book. Being off task shifted to she must not find this experience fun or engaging. I worked with her parents to establish a system of accountability to encourage her to complete her classwork. I intentionally made every effort to find her actions endearing rather than frustrating.
And, shortly after these shifts she started to choose to eat her snack at my table. We talked about the most random things. She’d tell me about her weekends in great detail, ask me about my favorite foods, and explain why in her opinion legos were the best toy.
These little opportunities added up to great results. She quickly became more motivated to listen and follow directions, to complete her coursework, and began to seek out opportunities to be helpful around the classroom.
And, I found myself beginning to see her in a whole new light. I began to look forward to our daily snack talks, she was often the key character in the highlight of my day, and by the end of the year she was one of the children that I had the strongest relationship with.
Looking back now, I’m proud of the effort I put in to salvage our relationship. It wasn’t easy, and it took a lot of trial and error, and patience, to find the right cadence and sequence of events to strengthen the relationship and uncover the motivations that would drive us both to success.
If I had the tools provided with Banking Time: Investing in Relationships I can only imagine how much quicker we could have formed a meaningful relationship, how many more children I could have connected with on a deeper level, and how much greater the outcomes would have been, for the children and myself.
A Profound, Endless Impact
Imagine the impact if every child, in every classroom, across every year felt welcomed, respected, and had positive relationships with their teachers. Imagine how that child views learning, imagine how that child views him/herself, and imagine how that transforms the trajectory of the child’s life as a result.
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When I was a teacher, I can remember taking care to intentionally plan differentiated, or individualized, instruction. And, when I was teaching pre-K I added the same level of intentionality to which materials were available in interest areas, and how I approached transitions throughout the day.
While any level of intentionally, specifically in relation to planning, is important -- I missed a critical opportunity in being more intentional in my interactions with the children in my class.
Teachstone, pioneering developer of the Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS®) included in 23 states' Quality Rating and Improvement Systems and used by Head Start programs nationwide, today announced it partnered with Kaplan Early Learning Company to release toolkits to support the literacy skills of all children, including dual-language learners, in the classroom and at home. The CLASS® Literacy Support Kit and the Literacy At-Home Kit, designed for children in prekindergarten and kindergarten, are now available for purchase and shipping.
Hey there, Teachstone community! My name is Stephanie Lewandowski, and I am the Senior Product Manager for myTeachstone. Before joining Teachstone, I built digital products for education companies, financial institutions, and government agencies. I’m passionate about delivering impactful products, particularly the tools that make the everyday work of teaching and learning a little bit easier. As a parent, and as a product manager, I know how invaluable early childhood education is, and I’m inspired by the teachers in both my personal and professional life.
We know positive relationships are important, but factors such as absenteeism, racial or cultural differences, and other biases can make it difficult for teachers to form those meaningful relationships with every child in their class. And, after a tumultuous 2020-2021 school year, teachers and students alike may need stronger relationships more than ever before.