The power of relationship in the classroom

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The power of relationship in the classroom

The relationship between teacher and student plays a pivotal role in education. As children spend most of their day, and many years, in the schooling system the quality of relationships they encounter with in their teaching and learning environment plays a huge part in their lives.

Are we aware of what being at school looks and feels like from a child’s perspective?

  • Do they look forward to coming to school?
  • Are they feeling unsure, anxious, out of their depth, unable to cope, or even ‘given up’?
  • Are they open to what the fresh new day can bring?

What is life like if we wake up every morning and our heart sinks at the thought of the day ahead? Many children feel reluctant, even fearful, about coming to school.

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How to support children dealing with school

Teaching a child energetic awareness is even more important than teaching them to read and write.

How can we address this situation?

We could think about what it is that we really love and appreciate the most. Isn’t it something about the way we engage and relate with each other, the fun and the insights we share?

If we made teaching first and foremost about true connection and relationship, would children feel the same reluctance about their education?

Over the years of teaching English literature, I’ve often found that students feel disempowered and tentative about engaging in the kind of literary criticism required in some courses. Many students are intimidated by this whole approach and have to virtually cut-and-paste their way through an essay instead of being able to write naturally in a relatable way, directly from how they are feeling and interacting with the subject. When we are talking together, connecting with each other, these same ‘struggling’ students are able to speak and express in an insightful and engaging way on the subject at hand. They know all about life and love and had a wealth to share.

Recently a student was totally perplexed about a novel she was required to study at school and was feeling stressed and depressed by it all. She said to me, ‘I’m so stuck, I just can’t write anything.’

We began by talking together about how we were both feeling about the book, what we observed about the people and situations, how they were presented, and the tone in which the narrative was delivered. It was great to observe without judgment what the book presented and share our awareness of this together. We laughed, we talked... we talked about life and randomly shared things that had stood out for us while reading the novel, without trying to draw things together into an intellectually structured format that ‘looked good’.

We let the conversation unfold and I felt inspired by the wisdom she shared – it was a two-way relationship that we both enjoyed. Suddenly she exclaimed – ‘All I have to do is say what I know about life, I love this – I don’t feel stupid, I know I can do it’.

By the end of the tutorial she was confident and longing to write. Our connection together supported her in recognising that she did have this knowing in her and then her expression followed naturally.

Every day that week, of her own volition, she sent me a piece of writing which culminated in a beautifully claimed piece of work which had none of the shackles of pseudo-intellectualism: the writing had all the vitality and power of this beautiful intelligent girl.

Simple connection between us transformed ‘I can’t write’ to ‘I am loving writing’.

This warmth, this connection and relationship is the fire that will ignite true learning in the classroom. Without the presence of this connection we are only imparting information, which can just fly over their heads – the student can remain outside of any real relationship with what they’re learning. Connecting allows for true intelligence and confidence to flourish, and students grow from strength to strength.

Isn’t this what true education is all about?

Filed under

IntelligenceRelationshipsEducationCommunication

  • Thumb small lyndy summerhaze

    By Lyndy Summerhaze, PhD, BA (1st class hons; University medal) Dip.Mus.Ed, Practitioner of Universal Medicine Therapies, EPA Accredited

    Lyndy loves truth, people, and great conversation. She works as a tutor in English Literature and is a practitioner of the healing arts.

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    Photography: Dean Whitling, Brisbane based photographer and film maker of 13 years.

    Dean shoots photos and videos for corporate portraits, architecture, products, events, marketing material, advertising & website content. Dean's philosophy - create photos and videos that have magic about them.