When I had the opportunity to move from being a classroom English teacher to being our school’s instructional technology coach, one of my biggest concerns was whether or not I would be able to develop the same types of relationships with students once I no longer had my own classes.
Because, as all educators know, it’s about the helping kids! Of course, helping kids depends on building relationships with them. And, to be honest, it’s not just about what the kids get out of it. Having positive relationships with kids is the fun part for us too!
While I do not have the same kinds of relationships with students that I used to, I am please to report that I have developed different types of relationships; ones that are valuable and still fun.
I had not realized that instead of knowing mostly my students in my own classes, I would have the opportunity to know almost all of the students at school. I might work with an honors English class one block and then see some of the same students in an art class later in the day. I’ve had the opportunity to see students working at a variety of projects
and subjects, so I’ve had a chance learned more about them and see their different interests and talents.
In my role as “the iPad lady” for the last four years, I have had much more of a presence on campus than I ever would have imagined. I love when students I may not know very well greet me and call me by name. I am not always great with names (especially at a school of 1700+), but I still love to talk to students and learn about them.
I have also loved working with students on our iTeam (worth a separate blog post). These students are our volunteer tech team – an all around great group of kids. In addition, participating in Shadow a Student day and being a part of our STEM program gives me more chances to get to know students.
Another way I’ve gotten to know students is through our mentoring program. This program has varied through the years, but the first time I signed up I was skeptical about what I had gotten myself into. “Randomly” tracking down my mentee about once a week and trying to talk him/her about school, home, or whatever the students wanted was awkward. But those relationships grew. One of my proudest moments was seeing a student who had been an “at risk” 10th grader when we first met walk across the stage this June. I was SO proud of her!
I will have to admit I have two favorite students at school – my own two daughters. It is one of the greatest privileges of my career to get to work where they go to school. I love when I happen to help in one of their classes or run into them in the hall, or when my youngest hollers “Hey, mom!” across the commons as she heads for class.
But a strange thing has happened these last few years. Besides being mom to my own daughters, I’ve found that other students have “adopted” me as a school mom. Often when I hear “Hey, mom!” or “Momma!” in the hallway, I have to look to see which of “my” children it is. I also think it’s funny when I can tell that other students are thinking: could those four students walking down the hall (all colors, shapes and sizes) really be my children.
Whether they are mentees, iTeam kids, friends of my children, or any other students at our school, I know my life is better because of the relationships we have. I am thankful my job still provides me way to develop relationships with some pretty amazing young people!