Every student should feel they belong in school, but not every student thinks that they belong. When children don’t have at least one positive adult relationship in school, they are vulnerable to a myriad of maladies and are far less likely to achieve academic success.
School connectedness is the strongest factor in reducing incidents of ANXIETY, DEPRESSION, SUICIDE, SUBSTANCE ABUSE, VIOLENCE. A protective factor for all students, regardless of race, ethnicity, and level of family income.–Starr CommonWealth
It is tough to know every child in the school when you are serving hundreds of students, and it is highly unlikely that one person could develop a meaningful relationship with 750 students. (Despite how valiantly some of us may try.) However, if each member of the faculty were involved in making each child feel they belonged, that is a much more manageable proposition.
Print the rosters (or use a google doc if you prefer) for each grade level and post them on the wall in your next staff or grade level meeting. Ask your teachers, cafeteria workers, custodians, and other school personnel to put a hashmark next to each student with whom they feel they have a connection, and the relationship is reciprocal.
Once everyone has completed marking the rosters, you will see is that many of the students in your school have numerous points of connection, while others have none.
The students who are without any marks, or adult relationship, should be assigned a specific adult who will commit to building a connection with that particular student.
How to Build Connections
- Make eye-contact.
- Have an open, calm, and friendly demeanor.
- Greet each student you know by name.
- Say their name often.
- Ask your student how they are doing–“How was your night/weekend?”
- Acknowledge when students are absent; ask the class to send that person good thoughts or when possible, call home to check-in on that student.
“No significant learning can occur without a significant relationship.”– Dr. James Comer.
I want to leave a legacy of love and connection where each student believes that their school is a place where they belong.