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Building Five Star Relationships

This blog post is serving double duty. I'm linking up with Jasmine over at Buzzing with Mrs. McClain for her You Oughta Know blog hop. I am also posting the second topic in a series about teaching in low income communities.
The first lesson without a doubt is getting to know your students. This is probably a "duh," but I wanted to include it just in case (wink, wink). Knowing students means not only their interests, but also what motivates them, how they receive feedback, things that anger them. Below are a few of my favorite resources to use to get to know your students. 
Other Ideas: Attend an extracurricular event, do a home visit, eat lunch with students 
I purposefully used the term "influencers" versus "parent" because in my experience I've found it helpful to know the adults that students look up to. That might be a previous teacher, extracurricular coach, older sibling, community leader and/or everyone in between. When I prioritize getting to know the people who know the people who are important to my students, it proves that I care, and provides another support link for students. SHAMEFUL PLUG-  I'll be doing a full blog on "Working With Stakeholders" that will include resources...I hope you come back.
When students feel valued as individuals and connected to a community, it provides the framework for a strong classroom culture. A safe and nurturing classroom is something that is intentionally built and maintained by the classroom teacher. From rules and procedures, to the classroom layout and student pairings... EVERYTHING BUILDS (or destroys) CLASSROOM CULTURE. Below are a few resources to assist with building relationships and creating a safe class. 

               Posters by Maria Manore              Subway Art by Hope King 
Personal relationships with students take time...and consistency. A lack of consistency creates a slippery slope when it comes to building trust filled relationships with students. Students have to know teacher expectations and these have to be followed through every time...without fail. I tend to think of my relationships with students as flowers... they need consistent sunlight and water. 
The final thing you OUGHTA KNOW is that building relationships is hard and time consuming. The most difficult thing in my experience was that many of students have many different layers of protection around who they were, which makes it difficult to open up. I own the times when I stopped trying (please don't judge me). That said, hindsight is a gift. Looking back, I've built stronger skin and have changed my orientation towards relationship building. This can be summed up in one of my favorite Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. quotes, "The ultimate measure of man is not where he stands in the moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands in times of challenge and controversy."As it relates to relationships, I believe that enduring through adversity and humbling myself in service of my kids and community is what has enabled me to build strong relationships and networks.   
I'd love to hear how others approach building relationships.


  1. These are great practical suggestions! It is all about being compassionate! Thank you for the reminders. Teaching Science With Lynda

  2. These are wonderful ideas for any classroom, not just low-income! I've used many of the ideas for #3 at the beginning of the year with my 5th graders. I also have them come up with ideas on how to make school a safe place. My favorite is an essential question poster activity (it's kind of a classroom wish-list). It really sets the tone for the year, and is a great tool to revisit throughout the year.

    1. I certainly agree with you Natalie! Thanks for dropping by!

  3. Excellent ideas! I finding being consistent is the most important and most overlooked rule.

    The Math Maniac

  4. Love your community-building activities! Thanks for sharing this great post!

    Mrs. Beattie's Classroom

  5. I agree with ALL of this! I teach in a low income elementary school and my students definitely have all the capabilities in the world just like any other student, but they do face other challenges that other students don't face. It is so important to address some of their other person and social needs before focusing on their academic needs.

    Buzzing With Mrs. McClain

  6. This post brought tears to my eyes.I have been teaching in low income areas for 7 years, and just recently decided to stay at home with my daughter. I miss my kids so much because of the relationships I have formed with them. It's funny that the ones that challenged me the most (physically, mentally, emotionally) are the ones that I miss the most. All of your ideas are spot on, thanks for sharing!
    Mrs. Plemons' Kindergarten

  7. Excellent tips! Thanks so much for the ideas.

  8. I completely agree on the importance of getting to know your students. There is always so much talk on the CCSS and rigor, but we always forget how important it is to get to know our students, where they come from, and being culturally aware of their world.

    A LoveLi Class

    1. I wish I cold LOVE THIS COMMENT! Yes, Yes, and Yes!