Students, Relationships and Choices

Nuance and Tone of Student Relationships and Choices - TeamTom Education
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Principal Perspectives featuring Cristobal Saldana and Principal Tribe

 –  Cristobal Saldana  – 

Our featured principal this week is a  father of four, a life-long learner, an ND alumnus, EdD,  and Assistant Principal at Pflugerville High School in Texas.

 Student Relationships and Choices

Principal Perspectives #10, March 18, 2019

Children are sensitive and perceptive. They constantly process tone and nuance, both consciously and unconsciously. They are susceptible to the overall mood of an environment, whether it be at home, at school, or at soccer practice.

This is why it is your responsibility, as a leader in education, to lead your school in an environment that contains an atmosphere of mutual respect, engagement, and positivity. Assistant Principal Cristobal Saldana is an excellent example of one who lives by this philosophy.

He is aware of the intuitive intelligence of children, and the importance of making students feel comfortable and considered in school. Cristobal Saldana is passionate about education, and he consistently uses twitter and his personal blog to spread positive messages to faculty and students alike. 

Pay Attention to the Emotional Climate

It cannot be stressed enough that children are perceptive beings. If your school is an emotionally warm place, then your students will feel relaxed and comfortable engaging with their surroundings.

The Principal Perspective

If a school has a climate and culture that is opening and welcoming the students will pick up on that. If it is a cold and negative place, they will pick up on that too. – Cristobal Saldana

If your school is an emotionally cold place, then students will feel tense and restricted in what they can express. This in turn will stifle both their creativity and curiosity. If you truly want to foster an open, collaborative culture of learning, then you need to accurately monitor the emotional climate of your school.

Treat Learning Like a Choice

The Principal Perspective

I think this is where choice really comes in. By giving them choices, you are having them buy into what they are learning. If you build relationships and relevance, they will take that learning to the next level because they care about the material and you as their teacher.  – Cristobal Saldana

There is so much nuance in how authority is handled in the teacher-student relationship. If you treat your students as dependents who must be told what to do, then they will view learning as a limited chore.

However, if you treat your students as autonomous individuals with the opportunity to learn, then they will take charge of their innate potential. Give your students choices and responsibility. Let them experience, firsthand, their own capacity.

Student Relationships and Choice - Cristobal Saldana from Principal Tribe

Know Your Students

The Principal Perspective

Relationships and relevance. I think they go hand in hand when teaching students. If the teacher knows her students and make the material relevant to them, then they will connect with the material when teacher makes relevant for them.  – ​Cristobal Saldana

Children have an intuitive gauge for adults’ awareness. Who doesn’t remember that out-of-touch teacher from elementary school, the one who referenced pop culture that was twenty years expired? To children, this comes across as rigid and inaccessible.

 How can a student connect with a teacher who knows nothing about her daily life?

You don’t need to become an expert in the latest trending apps or viral YouTube videos, but do make the effort to talk to your students and understand their culture. You can then use your creativity to apply the instructional climate to their lives outside of school.

Beyond Learning Compliance

The Principal Perspective

Compliance means that the students do what you ask. Engagement occurs when they take the task or lesson at hand and make it their own. Sometimes, that learning takes on a life of its own! – Cristobal Saldana

As mentioned in the second heading, the authority of a teacher over a student can sometimes settle into a relationship that merely consists of orders given and directives followed.

You can transcend this stale dynamic by giving your students responsibility. Ask that your students think critically.

  • Why is the material important?
  • Where is the material paralleled in our society?
  • How can this lesson be formatted into a classroom activity?
  • Can we create a skit that communicates this page in our textbook?
  • Prompt your students with questions that are purposefully open-ended, and they will see that any topic can become limitless.

Rigor is not just about thinking, it’s about engagement. It’s about moving beyond compliance.

Relationships are more than the words you communicate to your students; they are about nuance. If you create an environment that is warm and open, then your students will feel comfortable opening up both personally and academically. If you regard your students with respect, then they will feel their own autonomy in the learning process.

If you give your students the power of choice, then they can grow into engaged, independent, and thoughtful humans. It is all about how you choose to handle your authority in these relationships.

You can connect with Cristobal on Twitter @saldanact or at his blog, OneStep Edu.

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Copyright 2019 Principal Tribe, Author Matt Foster, Writer Rachel Button

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