Relationships. I talk and write all the time about how important they are, and they are important. In my opinion, relationships must come first in the classroom. Without them, without respect for my students, without sharing myself with my students, I’m sunk. It all begins with relationships.
What I don’t know if I’ve written about before is how hard they can be. With some, relationships are easy. Typically with my more vocal students, my attention seeking students, relationships come naturally. Also with my students with behavior issues, relationships grow quickly. If I want to help them make better choice and make my year easier as a result, I immediately begin the work of building.
But my shy kids, my kids that are having difficulties but don’t want people to know? Relationships are hard. I have to work on those. And the honest truth is, sometimes we don’t get where I think we need to by the end of the year.
It isn’t without tremendous effort, but there are times that the last day of school occurs, the last child gives me a hug, they walk out of our room, and I wish we had more time. Sometimes as much as I try, I struggle to reach them in the way I wanted.
Luckily for me in a small town such as this one, I get to keep trying. Yesterday I saw a student that falls into this category. Not shy, but I didn’t feel like I made a strong enough connection last year. I tried and tried, but there was a wall up that I just couldn’t break down. When I saw this child yesterday, I was busy. I had a full schedule and needed to keep moving. So I greeted him, asked how he was, said something in return, and then turned my attention elsewhere.
Then, that nagging voice in my head that drives me crazy said to ask him what he was reading. I dismissed it initially, he didn’t like reading. That was a yearlong struggle as well. The voice was insistent, so I asked.
He smiled, rattled off a title, I asked a few more questions, he answered, as did his friend, and we moved on.
It wasn’t much, but it was another step towards knowing him. It reminded me that my relationship with these kids is not a nine months and done kind of relationship, it is life long. I always tell them I am their teacher from the moment they are placed on my class list until the day I die. I need to also remember that just because I don’t get to the point I want in the year we spend together, I can’t stop trying. Maybe the kids I can’t reach in the way I want just need more time, and that is something I have plenty of.
I just can’t stop trying.