Improving Teacher-Student Relationships

Many schools and districts are examining MOOCs as a method for “flipping” professional development for their teachers. Improving Teacher and Student Relationships is one of more than 30 Canvas Network courses that start this month. Canvas has hosted over 300 MOOCs from 125 organizations. The breadth of these offerings provide districts with methods to meet the intrinsic motivation needs of technology-dependent staff members, differentiate instruction for their non-tech using staff, and allow teachers a greater amount of choice in their professional learning overall.

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Reichert & Hawley (2014) found that 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. Research indicates that the factors 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.

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Researchers are still defining what barriers teachers perceive in improving relationships with their students and how online and traditional teachers differ in building teacher student relationships. The goal of this course is to help teachers develop growth mindsets about improving their relationships with students. Playlists of video lectures, readings, and discussion board activities will allow teachers to thinkaloud and practice with relationship-building tools within a caring instructional community. This course will review contemporary research and pedagogical programs that you can implement in your classroom to enhance teaching and learning. Enroll here.

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Live from EdmodoCon

What does Edmodo do? Simply put, it brings teachers and students together. Using social media to connect with students, or using tech to improve relationships between teachers and students were major themes in this year’s EdmodoCon14. To follow the backchannel go to #EdmodoCon on Twitter.

For me the highlights of EdmodoCon were:

Middle School ELA teacher Nathan Garvin took the crowd through methods to use Edmodo to improve student writing practices. He suggested awarding student badges for thesis statements, intro paragraphs, and other steps in the writing process. A big fan of mashups, Nathan made me realize that teachers are professional mashup artists, we stealing from the best and truly believe there is no pride in authorship, or as our students say “sharing is caring.”

Floridian Robert Miller has created Edmodo profiles of historical figures and had them join student history groups on Edmodo. He also took the conventioneers through a series of very creative formative assessments.

Sheryl Place spoke about using technology to connect with students. She opened her heart about the miracles of improved relationships between teacher and student and how online conversations have transformed her teaching. One great tip was using Edmodo to automate birthday messages for students. What a great way to personalize and let students know you care. Another recurring theme was that rules without relationships equal rebellion. While, Edmodo builds relationships and trust. Many other educators chimed in noting they love the relationships they have developed with students via Edmodo. Now the quiet ones in class are not so quiet online.

Valerie Knauer talked about her experiences asking students to write about personal topics.  Several of her examples brought tears to my eyes. Valerie reminded me that great teachers are haunted by the students that they tried to reach, but didn’t. I still remember a 10th grader whose mom was in prison for life, a top-notch debate student who had to quit the team because her father would be too drunk to pick her up after 6:00 pm, and a student who had transferred into my school after a humiliating YouTube bullying act of cruelty. It is important to remember the ones whose lives you do touch and change. One of my 7th grade student’s father was killed in a fight during the school year, which put that young man into a tailspin of depression. Thanks to social media, I kept in touch with that young man over the years and I am happy to report that he just finished his BA at a Cal State U. Valerie’s presentation demonstrated how teachers save lives one kid at a time.

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The dog wouldn’t join our viewing party and really only Daddy had a great time. This session reaffirmed that my 3 desert island apps would be Edmodo, Quizlet, Kahoot. I used TweetChat throughout the conference and was dismayed when I went back to write this post, many of my Tweets were never sent.  I wonder if other Twitterers have had that same experience? Thanks EdmodoCon14. Now, I need to go check out Storylines, Curriculet, and HaikuDeck.

 
Video

Phoning Parents Part 2

Hello Everyone. I am, Dr. Scott Petri, your instructor for Improving Teacher and Student Relationships. Welcome to the second lecture on improving teacher and parent communication. Thank you to the great people at Match Education for this great book Phoning Parents by Michael Goldstein. It’s cheaper than a Venti at Starbucks. Go get it.

This video will explain the six types of phone calls the book advocates making. If you read the study by Matt Kraft on the website, you know making proactive calls to parents created stronger teacher-student relationships, improved parental involvement, and increased student motivation.

The book recommends making this systemic behavior, investing 30 minutes a day in making parent phone calls. These calls should be no longer than 5 minutes each, which means you can make 6 calls per day, 36 calls a week. If you have 180 students, it will take 5 weeks to call every parent.

The six reasons for making these phone calls are: Shows courtesy and respect to both student and parent; You know parent got the message because you hear them saying uh-huh and what? Phone call communication is 1 to 1; Provide parents with more detailed information about their child’s progress and behavior than progress reports or dailies; Teacher can provide specific advice to the parent; and Increases student interest and investment in learning.

The Praise Call
Teacher describes a positive choice or goal met by the child
Breaks the negative cycle for struggling students
Praise must be specific and detailed
Focus on effort, choices, and accomplishments

The Correction Call
Describes something the student needs to improve
Helps student and parent understand what improvement looks like
Discuss and decide next steps for beginning the process of improvement

The Check In Call
See how student is doing with classwork and homework
Speak to student before parent
You didn’t finish your work in class today, what was the problem?
Recap purpose of call with parent

Text Messaging
Can be praise or reminders
Don’t use texting for corrections or concerns – call instead
Be careful not to automate, or you risk losing the personal bond in the relationship
Services like Remind.com, or Remind 101 can help personalize batch messages.

Texting is the most popular form of communicating for teenagers. 87% of high school seniors text every day, whereas only 61% of them use Facebook daily. This may not be the medium of choice for parents, so ask what they prefer.

The Summit
An emergency in-person meeting with student and parent present
Create a plan to help student
Be warm, but unapologetic about your high expectations
Make parent your partner

I hope you will consider investing some time in making proactive phone calls to increase your students’ engagement this year. Be sure to check out the additional resources and supplementary videos I’ve put on the blog under the tag phoning parents.

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MOOC Assignment

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For the past few weeks I have been gathering materials and brainstorming assignments for the MOOC I will be co-teaching with Mr. Thomas on Improving Teacher-Student Relationships.  I recently completed another MOOC on Coaching Teachers that used a coaching feedback session and required students to debrief the video in a peer reviewed writing assignment.  Sort of along those lines, we could use an excerpt Solving Problems Together from pp. 129-149 of How to Talk So Kids Can Learn. As an extension activity, course participants will script problem scenarios, or conflicts they have had with students in their classrooms (and wish they could do over) by grade level and topic on the discussion board.

Once published and viewable, these scenarios will provide asynchronous opportunities for participants to practice summarizing the child’s point of view and brainstorming solutions collaboratively.  Finally, we would offer participants a chance to participate in role playing sessions in real time via Skype or Google Hangouts (video chat).  With the right social media tools (Twitter & Facebook) participants may be able to link up and practice some of these techniques together, even if they are continents apart. For participants who cannot participate in the real time chats, we can provide links to the videos so they can view the sessions.  I am open to any feedback and advice on making this a more practical and worthwhile exercise for teachers.