Hey #iste13! It’s About the Relationships

7228390598_52f9fbcdb5It’s very easy to get overwhelmed here in San Antonio for the 2013 ISTE Conference. Thirteen thousand educators presenting, sharing, collaborating, and inspiring each other for almost a full week. In the opening Keynote Jane McGonigal talked about how gaming will play a huge part in the future of education and learning. Gaming has been a theme throughout the conference, and is part of a much bigger focus on student engagement. I agree that student engagement is needed for our students to get connected with learning, but I’m positive that one thing makes more difference than anything else.

It’s About The Relationships!

Think about the people you’ve learned the most from in your life? You probably have a relationship with them on some level. Think about the teacher you learned the most from? I’m betting you “liked” this teacher and felt comfortable enough to take risks and share with him/her.

As Rita Pierson mentioned in her TED Education talk: “Kid’s don’t learn from people they don’t like!“. I’m going to go a step further and say that most of the time adults don’t learn from people they don’t like! Learning is a back-and-forth process with many distractions and pitfalls. If you don’t have a invested relationship, it’s easy to stop trying and give up in the learning process.

Dr. Rimm-Kaufmann’s study “Improving Students’ Relationships with Teachers to Provide Essential Support for Learning”, makes the case that the relationship between learner and teacher is one of the most important factors in achievement:

Those students who have close, positive and supportive relationships with their teachers will attain higher levels of achievement than those students with more conflictual relationships. If a student feels a personal connection to a teacher, experiences frequent communication with a teacher, and receives more guidance and praise than criticism from the teacher, then the student is likely to become more trustful of that teacher, show more engagement in the academic content presented, display better classroom behavior, and achieve at higher levels academically. Positive teacher-student relationships draw students into the process of learning and promote their desire to learn.

As a teacher I wanted my students to know they could take risks, and encouraged them to try something that they would feel accomplished once finished. That is similarly true for my work with teachers. They need to have a trusting and open relationship with me before growth really takes place. I still talk to many former students and keep up with them online or when they come back to the area. We shouldn’t build relationship meant to end in June.

And finally, how cool is it to build relationship online with some of the amazing educators at ISTE 2013! I learn from these people every day on Twitter and their blogs. I feel like I know them through their words and our communication online. But to hear what they have to say live in person, takes it to the next level. Be that champion our students need, by treating them like someone worth building a relationship with.

Photo Credit: Mustafa Khayat via Compfight cc

PS – I’d love to connect with you on Twitter!

PPS – I’m releasing a free ebook, “Teach Above the Test”. Signup for your copy here!

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