Kara’s final tip is to support, support, support. She specifically addresses supporting staff, students, and families who need your help. Show support to your people and understand that the people are what matter most. Be willing to give your time, energy, and love to lift others up.
As a teacher, I often felt overwhelmed trying to meet the needs of my students. As a school leader, I now have the responsibility to meet the needs of not only my students (all of them) but also the faculty and staff. I have struggled to try and meet those needs adequately. Often times it feels like I am only able to meet the bare minimum and that is usually helping the squeaky wheel. Many times it feels like:
I was reading Start. Right. Now. this week and they talked about the importance of relationships and interactions with staff and students.
The important thing to remember is that your actions and how you act around both your students and staff can really go a long way toward making a difference in the lives of others. I have realized that just simply smiling at students and saying “hello” in the hallways can make a world of difference in trying to establish a positive culture and climate. I’ve also realized that people want to know that they matter. Both students and staff want to feel as though they have a place and are cared for while they are here.
I received a note of thanks from a student just the other day that highlighted this perfectly. This was from a student with which I had many interactions and most of them were because of negative choices that he had made. He has recently reached rock bottom and is clawing his way back, watching the struggle has been hard. Hard because he didn’t have to get to that point, and hard because I can’t help him anymore. His choices are causing him to leave our school to finish high school elsewhere.
There were many times reading the note that made me stop and think about what I do as an educator, and how my support is perceived. Mainly because I didn’t feel like I did a lot with him. I don’t want the reader to assume I was meeting and following up with this student every single day. There were weeks that would go by and I wouldn’t see him.
However, this note has done one thing, and that is to solidify my belief about the small interactions we have with students and how impactful they can be. Just as outlined in the quote above.
I’ve included just a few small snippets from the note below. I really hesitated included these because I didn’t want to seem like I was tooting my own horn, but I feel that it is important because it emphasizes my point in supporting students.
You always showed me respect, love, and care…
You were that solid, consistent figure in my life and at school…
But even through all my mess ups and being the monster that I was, you, you believed in me…
You’ve been there when no one was, no one cares, at least about me and the druggies. You didn’t see me as just another druggie and you don’t know how much that means to me…
You have been the best father figure I’ve had in my life. Thank you so much for being there, you mean the world to me, you’ve been there at my worst point, my worst self, the monster I created inside…
Thank you, I am free finally.
I played a larger part in this student’s life than I could have ever imagined. The interactions we had, whether they were large or small, significant or insignificant, were crucial for him.
My wife is a big Brené Brown fan and she has a video talking about The Anatomy of Trust and she nails it! Trust is built in very small moments. It’s the little things that matter. If you have a chance watch the video.
It is crystal clear. Trust is built in very small moments.
In relationships, we have opportunities to build trust or to betray the trust of another.
When we trust, we are braving connection with someone. So what is trust? Brene Brown’s definition of trust gives us the acronym BRAVING, which is the anatomy of trust:
“There is not trust without boundaries.”
“I can only trust you if you do what you say you’ll do” again and again.
“I can only trust you if when you make a mistake, you’re willing to own it, apologize for it and make amends. I can only trust you if when I make a mistake, I am allowed to own it, apologize and make amends.”
Keeping a confidence
Brown’s definition of integrity: “Choosing courage over comfort, choosing what’s right over what’s fun, fast or easy, and practicing your values not just professing your values.”
You and I both can struggle and ask for help
“Our relationship is only a trusting relationship if you can assume the most generous thing about my words, intentions, and behaviors. And then check in with me.”
Wow. We support others by building trust with them.
Something else in the Start. Right. Now.
I have been humbled and amazed by teachers and students working to give their very best while in the midst of a personal crisis. This is one of the many reasons why I believe relationships are so crucial. We must have meaningful experiences with each other, celebrate with each other, laugh with each other, know when others are hurting, and, sometimes, cry with each other. It is also important that we say the right things to each other —and not say things that are counterproductive to success. Developing these types of relationships takes time. As a leader, I know it is imperative that I model the importance of investing time in others. Strong relationships matter; without them, we literally have nothing.
I love that last line: Strong relationships matter; without them, we literally have nothing. This is something that as an administrative team we have talked a lot. In a recent interview, the candidate asked us the most important thing we are looking for in a teacher. Without hesitation, a fellow administrator and I said, the 3 Rs: relationship, relationship, and relationships.
Supporting students and staff is done with creating relationships. Like I talked about in a previous post, people don’t care how much you care until they know how much you care. We can’t support our staff and students if they don’t think we care.
Here’s to supporting students and staff by showing we care.