Relationships are key in any kind of teaching situation (see The Best Resources On The Importance Of Building Positive Relationships With Students), and developing trust is a key part of that (see The Best Posts About Trust & Education).
Last week, I wrote about one of the key strategies I’m using in a full time distance learning environment (see “Individual Meetings” Are THE Building Blocks Of A Successful Community Organization & They Can Be The Same In A Distance Learning Classroom).
However, I realized that I had omitted an important in that post after reading a piece that Angela Duckworth post this morning (see V Is for Vulnerability).
In her piece, she reminds us teachers that demonstrating our vulnerability thorough admitting our mistakes and sharing our own struggles (see The Best Resources On The Importance Of Saying “I’m Sorry” and The Best Posts, Articles & Videos About Learning From Mistakes & Failures) will help facilitate a sense of trust between us and students.
As I mentioned, her comments reminded me a key point I had left out of my piece about using individual meetings with students to develop relationships – relationships are not built through one way interviews where we just ask students questions.
As we learned in organizing, relationships are built through an exchange of stories.
Those stories do not necessarily have to happen in the individual conversations with students, though.
For example, this week I began having those ten minute individual video conferences after I had modeled a “Two Truths and A Lie” game we are going to be playing over the next week or so, and after I shared a few more details about me (my addiction to Reeses Peanut Buttercups, for example). They also happened after I had spent a minute telling students a few more tidbits of personal information (I was born without a sense of smell, I lost my father when I was a teenager). And they came after I modeled another student project by telling the class about the death of my first wife thirty years ago.
It was pretty obvious in my subsequent individual conversations – at least, it was to me – that students were much more open than they might have been otherwise, including by their asking me questions about my personal story and by their making connections between my struggles and their own.
I always share these same stories with students in “normal times.” However, I don’t necessarily share them all in the first week-and-a-half!
But it’s clear to me that we have to take risks, and take them now, to break through the barriers of the computer screen….