“The three most important words in education are:
relationships, relationships, relationships.
Without them we have nothing.”
In the world of educators, today was a challenging day, today was a rewarding day, but today was also a learning day. Today I learned that sometimes the most important thing you can do at a heightened moment of frustration, is to simply offer a hug – a hug that says “you matter”, “you are important”, “you are worth it”.
I learned this lesson from a student – from a challenging, difficult but lovable student who is often on the defensive and is used to “disappointing” people. Someone came to the office and said that ‘D’ had run away and was leaving the school. I went looking for him and found him angrily putting on his jacket to go home. I stopped him and asked him what was going on. He was mad, and he was frustrated – he was fighting to not completely lose it and strike out. Not sure what to do, I looked at him and reached out and hugged him. After a few seconds, he stopped reacting and he hugged me back, and as I talked to him about being frustrated, and reassuring him that was ok to feel that way, he cried, calmed down, and then after a minute or two he said he was good. His whole demeanor changed, and instead of fleeing, the moment passed and he was able to regulate himself and we could talk about what had happened.
At the time, I was also in the middle of a meeting in my office, which I had to get back to so it wasn’t until after work that I was able to reflect on what had happened and what I learned from that connection.
So often we are focused on what we need to get done, on getting things accomplished, on meeting the deadlines that loom all around that we miss those opportunities to truly connect in ways that might make all the difference. Do we realize that value of calm words, of being aware of how we impact people, of understanding how our reactions can heighten or de-escalate a situation?
One of my mentors, Dr. Rawana ( Director of the Centre of Education and Research on Positive Youth Development) shared with us the four core competencies that people need in life:
- to trust, and be trusted
- to feel value, and be valued
- to feel competence
- to be hopeful
How can we bring those core competencies out in people, and how can we build these competencies within ourselves? How can we be aware of how our attitudes, our stressers, our strengths can be used to bring those competencies out in ourselves and others? As I spend the next month being connected, I will also remember the power of connecting through relationships – through value, trust, competence and hope, because when we value relationships, we show we value each other as learners, as teachers, as human beings.
“If we want meaningful change, we have to make a connection of the heart before we can make a connection to the mind”
(George Couros, 2015)