Favorite teacherIt seems like very few days go by when I don’t hear one story or another about the positive impact a teacher that “got” them made on someone’s life. I also hear lots of stories about unbearable school years where a teacher just didn’t connect with someone and this lack of connection made a negative impact on the individual’s perception of school in general, the subject matter being taught, and (most importantly) their own self esteem.

These examples are backed up by numerous recent research studies which conclude that positive teacher-student relationships have been shown to support students’ adjustment to school, contribute to their social skills, promote academic performance, and foster students’ resiliency in academic performance. (Battistich, Schaps, & Wilson, 2004; Birch & Ladd, 1997; Hamre & Pianta, 2001)

In fact, ASCD’s email newsletter just yesterday stated, “students as learners are also students as people, with hopes, fears, and needs. That’s why it’s so important to build adult-student relationships that support and encourage each student’s academic and personal growth. The frequency and perceived worth of interaction (PDF) with faculty, staff, and other students is one of the strongest predictors not only of student persistence but also of student learning.”

This belief is the foundation upon which Kidzmet is built. And it shouldn’t be something that we expect just from interpersonally gifted instructors that have an innate talent for connecting with people. We should expect a fervent attempt at true connection from EVERY teacher a child has in school. It doesn’t just benefit the students, it gives the teacher the experience of having a room full of students that are not only more engaged throughout the school year, but who wrap up the school year thinking, “s/he was the best teacher I’ve ever had.”

Throughout May, we’ll be looking for blog comments that tell stories of their most POSITIVE and most NEGATIVE teacher relationship experiences. (It can be yours or your child’s.) It can be a story of a teacher that made you love science because he presented it in a way that “clicked” for you. Or a teacher that used the *wrong* approach to motivate you and you spent the year dreaming up excuses about why you couldn’t make it to her class. Or even the story of a teacher that came highly recommended by another parent, but that just didn’t “get” your child.

Everyone who posts a story will get a Kidzmet Classroom Account gift card to pass along to a teacher, so that she can understand how each individual student in her class ticks and hit the ground running with new student relationships. Save it until you know who your child’s next teacher is in the Fall; pass it along to a sports coach, tutor or summer activities leader; or even gift it to this year’s teacher so that he is better prepared to welcome his new batch of students this Fall. It’s entirely up to you.

We’re looking forward to hearing everyone’s stories!!

To our kids’ collective success,
Jen Lilienstein

YOUR favorite (or least favorite) teacher story