Check out this podcast with Heather Boltz, sixth grade English teacher and author of the AMLE Magazine article, “From Students to Relationships: Transforming Your Classroom.” Listen in and get valuable insights about how to make relationships work in the middle level.
Having positive relationships with students is such a crucial asset in middle grades education. I really like how Heather involved her students in the lesson. she mentions the feeling we get when we can be involved and it goes the same for our students.
Relationships can be tricky in middle school classrooms because there is a fine line between being the students’ teacher, but also listening to their needs, almost like a friend. Heather was able to create a community in her classroom by giving her students an opportunity to give their opinions on her lessons. I think that’s a great way to get feedback on lessons.
I love the idea of using classroom roles or duties to make students feel like they are an important part of the mechanism that is our classroom. This will motivate students to want to be engaged in class and be in class.
I really liked when asked what food relationships in schools would represent and she stated it was like water. So many times teachers are trying to be the most trendy or cutting edge with teaching strategies or they are trying to build up rigor to increase scores that they forget that the relationships foster growth in students. They are more willing to work for someone they respect and they are willing to take chances and grow when they are not scared to fail.
Heather does a really great job at differentiating between being a student’s friend, and being friendly and professional to a student. She designs a deep sense of community by valuing what her students have to say and even opening the floor to evaluations and opinions on her lessons and activities. This is definitely something that I could see myself incorporating into my future classroom, as it gives students the chance to see that as teachers we care about how they do in our class, and also how they feel in our class.
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