First Things First

Tuesday, February 6, 2018
getting back to the heart of the matter, Suzanne 

If you’ve followed Lori and I for any length of time, you know that we are anti- fluff, free time, and flying by the seat of your pants.  If you’re new here, WELCOME!  All of the aforementioned mentioned is true.

I think this starting point is important. I have a teacher that I work closely with who is my biggest skeptic while being my biggest supported- if that’s possible.  Because I have proven to him that manipulatives, talk time, and movement accomplish academic purposes and challenge thinking, he is willing to go with me.  

So hear me out…

If you were asked, “What’s the most important factor in student success?”, we would all chorally respond “relationships” in our singiest-songiest voice.  It’s the Sunday School answer.  

I was really good at relationships my first year of teaching.  I didn’t really know what was going on in the curriculum and instruction department (don’t we all need a recall on that first group(s) of kids?), so I decided the least I could do is not be a jerk.  Let me be clear, I was not a push over.  There was a clear line and when crossed, students knew X would happen, every time.  But I was kind.  I had kids with me all the livelong day- before school (Reader’s Cafe), during school (obviously), during lunch (reward or detention…it was a mixed bag), after school (tutoring).  Told ya…all day looooong.  You know what though…my kids rocked that year!  I pushed my kids, and they did it!

Sadly, the more I grew in my content knowledge, the more relationships took a backseat.  I wanted a writing baseline within that first week.  Notebooks were set up and running mid week 2.  And I regret it.  My kids liked me.  They would tell you I was nice, but it wasn’t the same.  For most of my kids, I wasn’t in that “I’d do anything for you Miss” place.  That’s where real magic happens, friends.  Typing this makes my heart heavy.  If I could get a do-over on anything, it would be this.

Last year, I spent a great deal of time researching- why do some students exceed expectations?  how do you deal with chronic misbehavior?  And do you know what I kept finding as an answer…relationships!  Again with the #realtalk, I was kind of disappointed.  I kept reading, listening.  Relationships.  Call me a slow learner but I kept at it.  I couldn’t escape the answer: relationships.

So what did I do with this knowledge? What does it look like/sound like in practice?  I’ll tell you…on Thursday!  


  1. Cliffhanger! I can't wait to read more about this! I read this post after JUST engaging one of my coworkers on the importance of building relationships as a foundation to academic and social success!

    1. Thankfully the wait is over! I just scheduled the second half to post bright and early tomorrow. Thanks for reading!!