Building, Maintaining, and Repairing Classroom Relationships
This Room of Earth and Sky
Educators need to give their students the opportunity to reveal their life histories, experiences, perspectives, and expectations in ways that are themed with the educators' class curriculums. Doing so will naturally build inter-subjectivity. Increased inter-subjectivity leads to meaningful relationships and higher achievement. In turn, this will lead to stronger social relatedness and connectedness.
The purpose of Building, Maintaining, and Repairing Classroom Relationships is simple: to quickly build classroom relationships in a metaphorical, colorful, and creative way. This can be accomplished by theming curriculum with phenomenology, experience, and values clarification (PEVC) strategies. This book is set up in a concrete, sequential, and linear fashion, and is designed to meet the needs of a variety of educators and leaders. It is arranged to be browsed for quick reference for teachers who are busy and need relationship building strategies, fast.
Table Of Contents
- About the author(s)/editor(s)
- About the book
- This eBook can be cited
- Table of Contents
- Foreword (Dwight C. Watson)
- Chapter 1. Summer Dreams: Sharing Skills and Experiences
- Chapter 2. Forever Sunrises: Classic Bridge Builders
- Chapter 3. Tell Us About an Uncloudy Day: Hopeful and Insightful
- Chapter 4. Seven Bridges Road: Crossing the Frightening Abyss … Gritty and Stark Reality
- Chapter 5. Papyrus in a Clear, Cold Stream: Engaging Writing Prompts
- Chapter 6. Loosening the Snare: Is There No Place on Earth for Me?
- Chapter 7. Thunderbirds Above the Great Plains: Double Your Happiness
- Chapter 8. Fresh Mountain Berries: Pulling on the Heartstrings of Our Students
- Chapter 9. Both Sides of the Sky, Both Sides of the Pillow: Time for a Cool Change
- Chapter 10. Touch the Sky, See the Future: Unasked for Advice
- Chapter 11. Eight Sunrises, Eight Sunbeams: Activities That Students Love
Chancellor, University of Wisconsin Whitewater
Nestled in the Now in Order to Navigate the Next: Exploring Storied Experiences
Recently my sister passed away. She was 70 years old and 13 years my senior. My storied experiences began as she placed me on her hip and walked me through the neighborhood. Everyone thought I was her child and she was proud of her baby brother. She talked to me constantly and told me secrets and stories about her friends, our other four siblings, and how to behave in public. She also told me what to do and what not to do and most importantly how to avoid trouble with our parents. At the age of 13, she provided the whispered wisdom I needed to navigate my childhood. This whispered wisdom was the origin of my moral development and the genesis of my integrity.
I grew up in the segregated South. This Black community provided me a fortress of support (Ford, Watson, & Ford, 2014). I could not venture too far without a shout out from my neighbors, parents, school teachers, church folk, and other community members directing my deportment, shaping my dispositions, and providing me the moral compass I needed in order to do all the good that I could possibly do. Because of the early nurturing of my affective identity, I actively follow this adage of John Wesley. ← vii | viii →
“Do all the good you can,
By all the means you can,
In all the ways you can,
In all the places you can,
At all the times you can,
To all the people you can,
As long as ever you can.”
As a former elementary school teacher, I too tried to provide my students the whispered wisdom of my family and a nurturing fortress of support that was provided to me by the home, church, and community. In our current school-based culture, many of the values, virtues, and truisms of the past are not being intentionally modeled or taught. The over concentration on standardized testing which engenders rote teaching and memorization has stifled not only creativity and critical thinking, but also moral development and affective education.
What do current teachers need to know in order to offset the myriad complexities of their students so that they can read, write, and reflect on their own storied lives? How can teachers use the relationships that they have with their students to engage them in affective aspects of their maturation and not be stifled by academic ennui? Students come to school not only to learn, but to feel. They want a relational dynamic with their classmates and their teachers. When students are asked to describe the point at which they sensed that they had established a relationship with their classmates and teachers, their description typically involved the use of the word “felt.” They felt wanted. They felt recognized. They felt at home. They felt comfortable. They felt connected. They felt important. They felt proud (Longmire & Montgomery, 2015).
The purpose of this book is to disrupt this conspiracy of affective malnutrition by highlighting issues and obstacles through values clarification so that students can feel through telling their nestled stories. Through the activities in this book students get to “story” their lived experiences and speak back to the conspiracy of silence to illuminate how issues and obstacles have been present in their lives. From these disclosures, teachers will be able to discuss, negotiate, and identify supports that assist students in finding their space in the classroom and their lives.
In this book, the authors discuss and recommend strategies, practices, and procedures to aid in the shaping of students’ beliefs, attitudes, values, ethics, and morals. The authors advocate the use of “courageous conversations” ← viii | ix → (Singleton & Linton, 2006) to facilitate dialog within the classroom context. The tenets of a courageous conversation is to first speak your truth, to experience discomfort, to expect and accept non-closure, and to stay engaged.
I utilized the activities that were threaded throughout the book in a teacher preparation course as we set up guidelines for courageous conversations regarding race, sexuality, religion, ethnicity, language, and other aspects of diversity. I asked my students to reflect on their storied experiences in order to use their life stories to build relationships, to maximize their personal strengths, and to teach with authenticity. One student commented:
My strengths involve open-mindedness, compassion, empathy, enthusiasm, relatability, proud independence, competitiveness, skillful engagement, approachability, attention to detail, collaboration, self-motivation, problem-solving skills, comfortability in fast-pace environments, excellent time management, self-monitoring (sexuality, feeling isolated), acknowledgement of discrimination/hate/stigmatizations, and sociological attitudes (elements that are under-noticed in the classroom and society that impact individuals). These strengths are constructions from my childhood. I grew up in a small Iowan town where Latinex people are the majority and Whites are the minority; therefore, my friends were a diverse group. These experiences help me relate and become comfortable with meeting new individuals regardless of race, ethnic background, or sexuality. Because of sports (cross-country and track), I am highly competitive. I now use a serious-leisure activity of running as a way to cope, manage, self-monitor, and guide to successfully maintain my moral character. Through running I have been able to re-evaluate myself in society to come fourth and acknowledge my wrong-doings and to start doing better and that is exactly why I’m here because I want to be better and I see myself as successful. I want to use my experiences, strengths, and struggles to assist young people as a high school counselor.
I have struggled with myself and my sexuality, I have struggled with finding acceptance. I struggle with anxiety. I consistently worry about things (grades, body image, personal health, characteristics displayed to public). Though if I am not accepted by my family for my sexuality, I am able to embrace myself and my qualities by finding belonging with friends and my teachers. Since I do not have the financial resources provided to me like most others, this makes me humble. Though I am not as intelligent as others, I am competitive within myself because that is what distance running has taught me. It motivates me to be able to attempt. Distance running is not about how many miles I can run, it is about how many times I can fail before I finally succeed. I have failed many times, but I have also taken the necessary steps to succeed and become someone new, a newly established person.
This testimony epitomizes the purpose of this book which is to enable students to “nestle in the now” through their storied experiences, but also enable them to harness the “nature of next” in order to focus on inspiration, ← ix | x → information, empowerment, and engagement to offset uncertainty, instability, stress, and risk. I encourage you to read, savor, and apply the practices in this book in order to motivate your students to live their lives as their authentic, actualized selves.
Ford, G., Watson, D. C., & Ford, L. (2014). Reclaiming our children’s education: Building a fortress of support for children of African descent. Religion & Education, 41(1), 51–62.
Longmire, B. & Montgomery, R. (2015). The relationship dynamic: How prospective students form a relationship with your college and why it matters in your ability to grow and control enrollment. Lenexa, KS: Longmire and Company Enrollment Management Solutions.
Singleton, G. & Linton, C. (2006). Courageous conversations about race: A field guide for achieving equity in schools. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.
Vanilla, Dominant Ethos
Now, more than ever, students need our support. They are under a vanilla, dominant ethos that overwhelms them with such values as superior self-distinction, showiness, and mind-boggling competition. To counter the pressure, we try to influence our students to break from the mainstream social media bombardment by inspecting their own experiences, and therefore expressing their own values. This endeavor will lead to making choices that are best for them and others. An important pillar to our teaching philosophies is supporting our students in both relating and connecting to society; to have hope and joy for meeting the day full on.
Clinging for Life, on the Verge of Self-Ruin
As veteran teachers, we are thankful. We made it through the proverbial gauntlet. We navigated through our elementary, middle, high school, college, and young adult years. Sometimes we struggled, and occasionally we even figured it out. This was mostly due to the mentors who influenced and guided us, and some even used strategies like the ones found in this book. For those teachers and activities, we give thanks in a most humble way. ← 1 | 2 →
Maybe There Is a Place on Earth for Me?
We believe our current local, state, and national curriculums to not only be sterile and sugar coated, they are also incomplete and false, especially concerning the voice and experience of our students. Research has consistently revealed that humans want to express themselves authentically, and that is the essence of this book (Dreikurs, 1982; Maslow, 1968, 1970; Rogers, 1961). Therefore, we strongly believe in allowing students the opportunity to reveal their life histories, experiences, perspectives, and expectations while themed with the curriculum. This process will naturally build inter-subjectivity between the students and teachers. A higher instance of inter-subjectivity will lead to stronger relationships and higher achievement (Glasser, 1986, 1990; Palmer, 1998). This process, in turn, will lead to a stronger social relatedness and connectedness for our students (Ormrod, 2008).
Do Not Force Me to Self-Identify
As educators, we acknowledge the privilege and power we hold. However, we have also struggled and failed numerous times. We collectively come from marginalized and minoritized contexts. These include, but are not limited to, abilities, ethnicity, addiction, poverty, geographic location, family dysfunction, and American veteran status. Because we are enthusiastic concerning inclusivity, we are sensitive to not being obsessional concerning our passion and want to avoid isolating others. Therefore, we have approached our EDI commitment for this highly personal work, in a subtle way. Our methods naturally influence students to self-identify what they are comfortable with; and, when they are ready.
Stepping Towards Hope, Tossing Out Psychological Garbage
Especially today, classroom relationships are paramount to the success of our students. Strong bonds also lead to happiness and well-being for our teachers, administrators, counsellors, caregivers, and community members. Therefore, and as mentioned earlier, this manuscript’s purpose is simple: to build classroom relationships, fast. We attempt to meet this goal by influencing our students to identify aspects in their quality world. The quality world is a ← 2 | 3 → concept developed by William Glasser (1986, 1990), one of the theorists and philosophers, that is a cornerstone of our work. In our own words, the quality world represents what we want that we do not have, and what we would like to keep. It also supports us in what we want to remove from our lives. The quality world is an imagined, healthy, and successful life. All people envision this perfect life, and students are no different. Our book will help the students to begin to envision a better, ideal existence.
- X, 220
- ISBN (PDF)
- ISBN (ePUB)
- ISBN (MOBI)
- ISBN (Softcover)
- ISBN (Hardcover)
- Publication date
- 2019 (October)
- New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Vienna, Oxford, Wien, 2019. X, 220 pp.