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Building (and Re-Building) Authentic and Equitable Relationships with Students

Workshop Spotlight | July 30, 2018

A key element to teaching is relationship building, and the spring 2018 MƒA mini-course “Building (and Re-Building) Authentic and Equitable Relationships with Students” aimed to explore ways for MƒA teachers to create better student-teacher relationships in their classrooms.

The course, led by Rachel Lissy, Ph.D., Senior Program Officer at Ramapo for Children, and Luis Alejandro Tapia, Equity Consultant at Ramapo for Children, acknowledged that relationship building with students is a process that can face various possibilities and challenges and is necessary for learning to occur.

“Students don’t learn from teachers they don’t connect with,” said MƒA Master Teacher David Richardson, who participated in the workshop. “If students don’t trust us teachers, it makes it extremely difficult for them to learn in our classrooms.”

MƒA teachers started the course by looking at relationship-building strategies, including modeling vulnerability, sharing pieces of themselves, and exploring differences and similarities in experiences, culture, and identities. Next, they identified barriers to relationship building by focusing on bias-based beliefs and practices, and how these biases may come up during conflict. Finally, they identified strategies for responding to conflict to turn these disagreements into chances for rebuilding and deepening relationships with students.

“Being able to learn from other teachers’ experiences is key,’ Richardson said. “Having this workshop meet over the course of the spring semester was vital because it allows us to have a shared space to talk about what practices worked well for us and which ones didn’t, so we could all learn and grow from each other.”

This is one of many courses offered at MƒA each semester that focuses on connecting with students in the classroom. Each semester, our course offerings vary in focus, including explorations of in-depth content, thoughtful pedagogy, and student insight to address all facets of teaching. See our most recent course offerings in our online course catalog.