As you take some time to relax and recharge during this well-deserved summer break, I truly hope you’re also making space for some self-reflection.
Recently, I had the incredible opportunity to speak at an inspiring educator institute at the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC, where I had the honor to share my work and the HEART in Mind model. Being in the presence of educators from all around the world got me thinking, how can we use these HEART skills more intentionally to build strong connections with our students this upcoming school year?
If you’re new to this blog, you might be wondering, what is this HEART in Mind model all about? Well, it’s a set of powerful practices and skills that can truly help us nurture positive relationships with our students. You can learn more about it here.
Let’s explore some examples of how these HEART skills can help us build positive relationships with students:
Honor Your Emotions: We start by recognizing and understanding our own emotions. When we approach our students with emotional awareness, we create an atmosphere of authenticity and openness. For instance, if a student seems upset or frustrated, we can acknowledge their feelings and show empathy, saying something like, “I can see that you’re feeling upset. Is there anything you’d like to talk about?”
Elect Your Responses: Instead of reacting impulsively to challenging situations, let’s choose thoughtful responses. When a student misbehaves, we can pause and consider what might be driving their behavior. Responding with understanding and care can make all the difference. For example, if a student is acting out in class, we can take them aside and calmly ask, “Is something bothering you today?”
Apply Empathy: Empathy is like a superpower for building connections. By putting ourselves in our students’ shoes, we can better understand their experiences and feelings. For instance, if a student is struggling with a difficult assignment, we can offer encouragement and support, saying, “I know this is challenging, but I believe in you. Let’s work on it together.”
Reignite Your Relationships: Relationships need constant nurturing, just like a flame that needs to be rekindled. Take time to connect with your students on a personal level, showing genuine interest in their lives and passions. You could have informal chats with them during breaks or before/after class, asking about their hobbies or weekend plans. You can incorporate this information in your lesson plans to make learning more meaningful.
Transform with Purpose: Finally, let’s remind ourselves of our purpose as educators – not just to teach content or skills but to guide and support our students on their journey. When we approach teaching with a sense of purpose, our passion becomes contagious. For instance, if a student is struggling with a subject, we can share our own experiences of overcoming challenges and inspire them to keep going.
Imagine the impact we could make if we prioritize these practices for the upcoming school year.
Building strong relationships with our students is not just a one-time thing; it’s an ongoing commitment. As effective teachers, we know that positive connections with students are vital for their academic, social, and emotional growth, and that’s why we must show up for them every single day.
I know it’s not an easy task, but it’s undoubtedly one of the most rewarding and impactful things we can do for our students. So, as educators, parents, and administrators, let’s all make a conscious choice to show up for our children with and through meaningful relationships. Together, we can create an environment that fosters lifelong learning and fulfillment. Use the HEART in Mind model and make a real difference in the lives of your students. You’ve got this!
Need help? If you need support or are looking for professional development, drop me a note to discuss how I can support your SEL efforts.