Monday, April 20, 2009

Is There a Disturbring Correlation Between Teacher-Student Relationships and Sweet Caroline?

Promoting teacher-student relationships in schools seems to be the most obvious no-brainer in education. It's like playing Neil Diamond's Sweet Caroline at a party; it's just a given. (Please allow me a side note here: why is every guy I know a closet Neil Diamond fan? Why do we deny ourselves the joy of being an out and out fan of one of the all-time musical greats? I would argue it's for one of two reasons: A) We are intimidated by the fact that every female over the age of 60 raves about his ravishing good looks, or B) We are threatened by anyone who has hair that looks that good at his age. Look, I'm not happy about liking him either. We'd all be a lot better off if he dressed like Jack Black and looked like Pauly from Sopranos. That way, he wouldn't be an icon among the ladies and we wouldn't have all these hair-envy issues. But the reality is that he dresses differently and has great hair. I say we get over these fears and succumb to Neil Diamond. Throw on a silver silk shirt, un-button the top 3 buttons, turn up the volume on Kentucky Woman and live!) But as I attend the birthday parties of my kids, I've begun to notice a pattern with Sweet Caroline; It's not being played. What's worse, because we've accepted it as the party-song for all occasions, we don't even notice that it's not being played. It's no longer on the party mixes. We're humming it, we're bouncing to it, but it's not being played and we aren't even noticing! Parties without Neil Diamond? A travesty to future generations!

Are we facing the same dilemma with teacher-student relationships? Are they such a given that they've been swept aside and we no longer notice their absence?

We've all heard what the research says about positive teacher-student relationships, or so I've been told. But have we? Do we really know how profoundly teacher-student relationships effect various aspects of the educational process? Because if we do, and we understand their importance, and we realize how much these relationships promote a positive learning experience, then it should be something we discuss at school on a regular basis.

Did you know.......

  • Robert Marzano says that a strong teacher-student relationship is the number 1 deterrent of behavior problems in classrooms? Its the number 1 classroom management tool?

  • There is abundant research that says positive teacher-student relationships is one of the top two things that "hook" at-risk students? (Along with teaching material they can relate to on a personal level.)

  • The research on students who are bullied regularly, and who participate in bullying regularly, both say the best prevention measure for bullying in schools is teachers who know their students?

  • The research strongly supports the connection between academic success and positive teacher-student relationships?

If you know me, then you know I often need things explained to me like I'm a 5-year old. So, for my benefit, here goes:

Teacher-Student Relationships:

  1. increase student learning.

  2. decrease behavior problems in the classroom.

  3. decrease the amount of bullying in schools.

  4. increase engagement for at-risk students.

Maybe it's time for us to put teacher-student relationships back into the daily conversation. Instead of just assuming it's on the play list, let's put it #1 on all of our party mixes. Let it serve as a reminder each day as we jam to our educational party mix just how important these relationships are to the success of our students. If we integrate it into all of our discussions, we can put the focus of importance back where it belongs, on the relationships between us and our students. And just like Sweet Caroline, we can rekindle a timeless classic. If you don't want to take my word for it, take a few minutes and listen to 10-year old Dalton Sherman:

For my song suggestion of the week..........wait for it.............that's right, Sweet Caroline by one Neil Diamond. (Bomp Bomp Bomm!). OK, so that was too easy. Another? Try A Little Less Conversation by the King. Play it loud.

The Red Sox have won 5 in a row. Can we just crown them right now? And the Bulls are up 1-0. And the Bears got Jay Cutler. It's a great time to be a die-hard Red Sox/Bulls/Bears fan. (Oh yeah, the Blackhawks are up 2-0, I became a die-hard Blackhawks fan yesterday in honor of my mentor, Leroy Lanes).

1 comment:

  1. I just read an article on this very thing, and I will bring it to share with you. All ideas pointing to the same important concept of positive teacher-student relationships. I see this everyday, the more positive I am the more I reach the students. It is hard sometimes, and sometimes I fail. This shows too, in the amount of work or learning that takes place by the student. Everyday it is important to remember patience and being positive, even when it's hard. Our students deserve this and reach success.