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Effective teaching means developing relationships

Last Sunday’s Parade (August 3, 2014) magazine had an interesting cover story, “What Makes a Great Teacher”. Usually pieces like this make me groan with worry because often they are just fluff pieces and sometimes even have mis-information for parents or the community. Happily this article was actually quite good, particularly focusing on how good teachers often use student mistakes and/or misunderstanding to help them learn.

I think this would be a good start for learning more about what professional teachers do and how students learn, but only a start. What is missing, although hinted at, is the important nature of how teachers develop relationships with their students. One of the most difficult tasks teachers really face is how to motivate students to persist in completing quality, thorough work and how to help students risk making mistakes in front of other students. Creating such a relationship oriented environment takes more than awareness-it takes work every day. Some questions to ask about how your schools work might be:

Does the administration provide teachers the level of support necessary to develop such a relationship oriented environment?

Do teachers focus on helping work through mistakes or just point them out?

Are there structural barriers that interfere with relationship development (such as teachers who see 100-200 different students every day)?

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