My wonderful Principal, Suzanne Blake, was emphatic that I include the 40 Developmental Assets when I told her I would be teaching Improving Teacher and Student Relationships. She had many stories about opening up a brand new middle school that embraced this work. She raved about how easy it was to establish a school culture when all of the teachers were on the same page about the importance of increasing the assets of their students. Since, then I have read much of the literature from the Search Institute and wholeheartedly agree that this framework deserves inclusion in this course.
The teacher-student connection does not merely contribute to or enhance teaching and learning; this relationship is the very medium through which successful teaching and learning is carried out (Reichert & Hawley, 2014). More importantly, we believe that the characteristics described in successful teacher student relationships can be developed. Teachers who effectively establish positive relationships with their students are characterized by: reaching out, often beyond standard classroom protocols, to locate and meet particular student needs; locating and responding to students’ individual interests and talents; sharing common interests and talents; sharing common characteristics, such as ethnicity, faith, and learning approaches; being willing, when appropriate, to disclose personal experiences; being willing to accommodate a measure of opposition; and being willing to reveal some degree of personal vulnerability.
The goal of the course is to give teachers a caring and collaborative environment to practice new skills that they wish to incorporate in their class. Toward that goal, how do we help teachers develop growth mindsets about improving their relationships with students? For more information and resources go to: www.search-institute.org.