Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Building Community and Relationships

We had a guest speaker today who talked about the importance of building a community for students so that they feel like they belong and then to create relationships with those students.  He approached the topic from the standpoint of working with aboriginal students.  However, I think that all of what he says, applies across the board.

I think that too often we expect students to conform to our standards and to align with what we think is important.  We fail to recognize that the value we place on things is not universal.  I would guess that my fellow student teachers value education.  That probably is universal.  But we also see the benefits of it.  I am reminded again and again that we are in the minority.  Many more people do not see education as necessary or required for success.  They grow up with parents who aren't educated, and yet succeed.  They see older classmates get jobs and move on without graduating or going on to post-secondary.  That is their frame of reference.  So, it's no wonder they have no ambition to keep going.

It feels like such a huge and overwhelming problem.  He brought up stats like 30% of the kids on the reserve he worked on graduate from high school.  In a previous presentation, the presenter said that just over 50% of FNMI across Alberta graduate.  That's not ok.

So then the question comes up - what can we do about this as new teachers?  And it all seems to come back to building relationships with our students so that a community forms and they feel like they belong.

Easy eh?

My question falls more along the lines of "if that works - why haven't they (schools/teachers/admin) been doing it all along?" or "if they've been doing this all along, then why isn't working?"...  It seems like such an obvious solution to the problem.  Is it simply too hard to put into practice?  Do too many teachers just not care?

Anyone have any thoughts they would like to share?

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