Last year my two teammates and I proposed a change for the way students were grouped in our grade level. We felt that in order to best meet students' emotional and academic needs it would be better for them to have less transitions and fewer teachers throughout the day. While it meant more work for us (we were going back to teaching all four subjects rather than just teaching two like we did during our first year at our new school), we knew that it would be better for the kids. Fewer teachers meant deeper relationships, and focusing on building relationships and creating a caring environment would, hopefully, help the students be willing to take risks and be able to recognize their strengths and develop confidence.
We met with a tremendous amount of resistance, as does anybody who introduces change, and it has made for some very challenging times. We were the bad guys. We "ruined" our happy family, we made people's lives difficult, we were crazy, we were "those 4th grade teachers." But no matter what people say or what people do, we continue to tell ourselves that it will all be worth it because it's truly going to make a difference for our students.
Today we had our "opening ceremonies" for the new school year. Following an Olympic theme our superintendent focused upon the importance of relationships: getting to know our students, building strong relationships with them, and developing positive relationships with their parents. This theme continued on through our building specific meetings. Develop positive relationships with parents. Get to know your students. Make a difference.
So we may be the bad guys. But to hear relationships become a focus made me feel like we have made a difference.