Working together to help children learn and grow in a complex world
Sep. 24, 2019
Strong bonds enrich students and teachers for a lifetime
By Mary Ann Sacco, 2nd Grade Teacher
More than the joy of having a long summer as a teacher is the joy of having the summer months to recharge and spend time doing the things I love to do. This summer, that included reconnecting with former students who are now successful adults!
I love getting together with alumni and seeing how far they’ve come and where they’re going. It’s wonderful seeing how they have fallen into the place where they are meant to be in life and doing what brings them true joy. I know I had a small part in building the foundation of where they are today, somewhere along the way, which is pretty neat.
Building relationships is just what we do at Canterbury. There’s a tangible warmth here, a sense of family, that visitors notice and that I have enjoyed every single one of my 27 years here. I think Canterbury attracts and retains faculty who value that warmth and personal connection.
For instance, my middle school colleague, John Schoultz, stays in touch with a wide variety of alumni. From informal get-togethers such as trivia nights to the most formal of occasions (when he officiated a former student’s wedding), John and his students share a lifelong bond. He’s not alone - poke your head into any classroom on our campus and you’ll find students and teachers developing relationships built on trust, mutual respect, and the special Canterbury ingredient: love.
For me, building strong relationships with students starts by simply getting to know them as people and finding out what they enjoy outside of school. I learn a lot about the kids just by having conversations with them and making that connection. Even better is when I can go to a student’s events outside of school, from dance to basketball. If I can’t make it, it means the world to them when I pay attention to events that are important to them and ask how they went.
Having a close relationship generates trust, and this is so beneficial for students’ success in the classroom. When students know I care about them, they tend to want to work harder, and when they aren’t doing well, they know I’m there to catch them when they fall. They’re not going to be afraid to make errors and take risks because we’ve created an environment where they’ll never be laughed at and where they can learn from their mistakes.
Don’t just take my word for it. There’s a huge body of research showing that strong relationships between students and teachers can influence everything from attendance to grades.
I love knowing students well and especially joking around with them. They know I joke a lot, and when they feel comfortable, they start throwing it back at me. It’s hysterical! It’s particularly rewarding when I hear from a parent that their child is anxious or doesn’t talk, and then that child speaks up in front of everybody in class, joking with me. Again, it’s about building that trust and relationship together.
One thing that parents may not realize is that when I teach your child, I don’t just send them on to 3rd grade; I follow up and ask their teachers how they’re doing. That’s pretty much true of most of the teachers here. My students will always be my little ducklings! Some kids will come back to visit, while others don’t feel that need to check in. But they’ll always be a part of the Canterbury family and in my heart.
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