The Key to Relationships

In my last post I discussed how important it is to form relationships with children when involved in caring for them. It is highly important. It is so important that I spent the better part of this past week reflecting on why it is important and how teachers go about forming relationships with students.

Why Relationships Are Important

Do you remember any of the teachers that you had when you were young? I only remember a handful of my own vividly. I remember my sixth grade teacher because she used to sing “Que Sera Sera” to me (my name is Sarah). I loved it when she did that. It was one of the techniques that she used to build a relationship with me. She also made learning interesting and fun, taking us outdoors for classes and making learning more hands-on than a lot of the other teachers I had did. In fact, I remember my fifth grade teacher for the same reasons – he made our learning very hands on, and I remember a lot of the experiences that I had in that class. But the relationships that we built made me feel safe with these teachers. I felt like I was in a secure place where I was valued.

Have you ever felt like you weren’t valued? Have you felt like that in a place that you spent the majority of your day? That feeling has the power to physically and emotionally drain people. It causes them to lose the enthusiasm for learning and work and to spend all day looking at the clock, waiting to go home. I read an article just last night that said that if a person has a friend at their place of work they feel more satisfied and happy in their work environment. Most children that attend childcare centers are there as long as, if not longer, than their parents are at work. This makes it a full-time job for children. In order to ensure that they will be happy and satisfied with their experiences in childcare, it is important for them to feel like they have a friend or a secure connection with someone.

That is where teachers come in.

A lot of children do have friends in the early childhood setting, but they are still learning how to get along with children and how to communicate with them. These friendships can be rocky and change from minute to minute, depending on the situations that the children find themselves in. Children need a connection that is more stable, one that they can rely on to be constant through the ups and downs of their days in childcare. When we form relationships with children we provide them this constant connection, even as we are guiding behavior and teaching social skills. The connections that we build with children give them a reason to want to come back to school day after day, and when children want to come back to school it decreases the daily stress of drop-off for both the child and the parent. That is a win for everyone.

In my next post I will talk about how teachers go about forming relationships with students.

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Creative Thinking Is Work

This post is the second of a twelve part series based on a post about creativity by Michael Michalko.

I saw a very interesting video last night. In it, a boy named Jacob Barnett gave a TEDxTeens audience some insight into how to be creative. In his very young way (he is 14), he told the audience to stop learning and start thinking. Now, this is a boy who was put in special education when he was younger. His parents were told that he was autistic and would probably never talk. Since he had that diagnosis and was put in less restrictive learning environments, it gave him time to think about other issues. Now he is filling out college applications and having Princeton physics professors trying to disprove the work that he is not only doing, but publishing research papers on.

There is a disconnect between what learning is and what thinking is. This disconnect is caused by the nature of our education system. Jacob Barnett encourages teens and others to stop learning for twenty-four hours and start thinking about something that they are passionate about. He recognizes the motivators: the ability to autonomously think about something that you are internally motivated by because of passion. 

He told a room full of teenagers to stop leaning on others for their knowledge and start thinking for themselves.

Doing this is hard work, especially if you haven’t done it before. However, once you begin to allow yourself the time and  attention that it takes to immerse yourself in your passion, it spreads through you like some sort of disease – only much, much better. Your brain begins thinking and making connections, and it is an exhilarating feeling to know that your brain has the capacity to do that much, to make that many connections. It is addictive; I would rather spend any vacation time that I get working on the ideas that I put forth in this blog or researching other ideas to put forth or present than do anything else. Because of this addiction that I now have, I am working harder than I have ever worked in my life and am busier than I have ever been in my life.

Creative thinking is work. It is hard work.

I have created many things. Many workshops, many blog posts. Most of the workshops that I created before were not that great. Some of my blog posts aren’t that great either, but I keep typing away because it is what I am passionate about. I work hard every day to create a workshop that will be inspiring and will allow participants to learn in their own unique way. It takes a focus and a passion and a patience that I didn’t know that I had. But I do, and you probably do, too. Find your passion and the rest will come with it.

This same type of focus and passion are necessary for an effective creative classroom environment. I am constantly changing things in my classroom to find out what works and what doesn’t. I work hard to apply the concepts that I discuss here in the classroom environment to make sure that they work. I have to be patient, because sometimes results don’t come right away. I have to be flexible, because sometimes the children have a different agenda than I do. And I have to be focused; I can tell when I didn’t plan very well. The children can tell, too. There is not a moment in my classroom when I am not working. Even when the children are sleeping, I think about incidents that happened throughout the morning, what they mean, and how to extend learning because of them. I think about individual children and what I need to do to help them learn. I think about class projects that I want to do. I plan how I need to change materials around the classroom to help them learn different things. Teaching, like learning and thinking, is dynamic. It should always be working and evolving, never sitting still.

Creative thinking is work. I am working harder now than I ever have in my life, but I love every second of it.

Brain Pickings: Stephen Jay Gould on Why Connections Are Key to Creativity

I ran into the Brain Pickings website by chance about a week and a half ago, and I have been so impressed with what I have seen on their site so far. This is the second article that I have posted from their site, once again about creativity. I hope that you enjoy it as much as I did.

Uncommon Genius: Stephen Jay Gould on Why Connections Are Key to Creativity