When I go to a store or restaurant regularly, I learn people’s names. I recognize them and use their names when I interact with them. This is important, to them and to me. It builds a relationship that usually results in better service for me and a returning customer for them. When I go to my pharmacy to refill a prescription, I am greeted by name and it makes me feel good. I think I make them feel good when I compliment them and use their names. When I go to a restaurant and I’m served by someone I don’t know, I learn their name and try to use it when we interact. Again, I think it helps us build a relationship, even though temporary, that will help during my time there.
I think the same thing works in the classroom. Of course when you know the student’s names and they know yours, it will help during the school year. But what other names are important. I always taught my students to recognize (by face and name) the following people: administrators, principal’s secretary, head janitor and the one who cleans our classroom, lunchroom ladies and other important people that cross into their lives. This has them noticed by others (in a positive way) when my students greet them by name or talk to them. By doing this, I’m preparing my students for the workplace where building relationships is important.
I also build relationships with parents. I call them on a regular basis so they know that when I call, it is not always bad news as they have been taught to expect. In fact, I call them so often that I allow them to call me by my first name (even though many won’t do that). This relationship enables parents to come to me when there is a problem before going to the administration. Now I’m not trying to cover up any major problems but I’m talking about the minor ones that the administration would really appreciate now having to deal with. Sometimes it is a simple problem that I am able to resolve. If I can’t resolve it, I’m able to go to the administration or guidance for some help. The parent feels that someone is there to help them if needed. I become one of the team players helping their child succeed rather than an adversary putting up obstacles.
Building relationships is so important for my students to be successful. By doing what I do, I’m being a role model for my students and teaching them to do the same.
How to you teach your students to build relationships? Please share.
Image: 'Panama Business and Investment'