The Importance of the Reciprocated Relationship in Education

I encourage you to watch this video from Edutopia on the importance of relationships for learning:

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It would be an excellent video for discussion regarding the importance of relationships in our schools and classrooms. One quote from the video resonated;

“Students who feel safe and supported are more likely to perform better academically.”

The reason this quote resonates for me is that a focus on building relationships isn’t about making a “fluffy” school that is all about making kids making feel good about themselves only. The focus on relationships is so that we can push our students to grow.

What I also appreciate about this video is the focus on the reciprocated relationship. This was not just about the teacher knowing their students, but students knowing their teacher as well. There was a vulnerability displayed in the examples, and it revealed a certain “humanness” that is beneficial to the growth of students, educators, and schools as a whole.

I talk about the importance of the “reciprocated relationship” for learning in “Innovate Inside the Box“:

Relationships don’t serve only to build up our learners; they give us a foundation to be able to challenge them as well. And the truth is, we are more likely to rise to high expectations when they are held by someone we like and trust.

If schools do not push our students to grow, then there is no purpose for them to be there in the first place. But if there is no relationship where learners feel seen and cared about, when we push our students or colleagues, there will be little motivation, if any, to respond to that encouragement. How do you find that balance between building up and challenging others to grow? Ask yourself these questions:

1. Do I have any positive connection other than this initial interaction, and do they know their contributions are valued?

2. Do I ever connect with this person to say something positive, or do I only share feedback with others (or specific people) when it is negative?

3. Am I open to being challenged and critiqued in the same manner in which I am ready to deliver?

The common denominator in all three questions is the importance of the reciprocated relationship. Ultimately, you can learn without a relationship, but you will also go much further when one is present.

If we want to be able to push the people we serve (students and staff), we will be much more effective when those same people know we have their backs and will support them when they fall.

Source: George Couros