eWalkThrough Fuel

Volume 3 No. 4

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From the CEO...

Welcome to eWalkThrough Fuel, Volume 3 No. 4, a quarterly communique for the SWPRSC Digital eWalkThrough® System. We are pleased to offer your team support for instructional observation during the 2017-2018 academic year!

The Digital eWalkThrough® System is a research-based model for effective and efficient instructional leadership. If student success is the destination, education is the engine, and eWalkThrough® is the fuel.

Expect the eWalkThrough Fuel quarterly from Dr. Kelly Gillespie, CEO of Southwest Plains Regional Service Center. Our professional learning team is dedicated to the design of innovative solutions that will deliver the results you require for your staff and your students.

Who are your teachers? Who are your students?

Care about people. Relationships matter. Nurture human connections. Make these a top priority as you head out to visit classrooms this fall. Observing instruction is the perfect opportunity to show you care and begin to get to know your students and teachers.

James P. Comes said, "No significant learning occurs without a significant relationship." John Hattie (2016) found that "teacher-student relationships" have a significant impact on learning (effect size = .72).

As we work with students, teachers, parents, and community members, I encourage educators to consider the power of spending time with people. Time spent developing relationships is time well-spent. Care. Listen more than you talk. Remember, people matter most.

As we begin a new school year, consider these suggestions for relationship building. Time and effort invested in people will reap endless benefits including student success in the classroom as well as across the schools, throughout the district, and even with stakeholders in the community.

Make it personal. We have a responsibility to get to know each of our students on an individual level. Take the time not only to understand the academic abilities of your students, but also try to understand and learn about their social and emotional well-being.

What are their personal interests? What are their talents? What do they enjoy and what makes them passionate? What occurs within their family/home life that might impact their success in the classroom?

Simultaneously, let your students get to know you. Share information about your family, your background, your interests/hobbies, and your dreams. Building rapport with your students will nurture increased positive interactions with them. Students will experience, understand, and believe you sincerely care about them. Don't forget the old adage, "Actions speak louder than words."

Let's face it....all students are different. They have various talents and are consequently interested in different things. My granddaughters have been dressing up like Frozen characters for the past two years. They sing the songs, act out the scenes, dance, and make-believe. If you mention Frozen, you have their attention.

For other students, their interest might lie in horses, race cars, gymnastics, or reading. Paula Denton, author of The Power of Our Words: Teacher Language that Helps Children Learn, says, "The more we know about the child, the more we can build learning environments and find creative ways to help the student successfully grasp the material."

Teachers must build curriculum based on the interests of individual students. Be innovative. Teachers must build learning environments that are creative and that nurture reflection and deep thinking. Only then will we authentically and intentionally capture their attention so that learning can be rigorous, relevant, and most of all--successful!

Be nice each & every day, with every word that is spoken and every action that you take. We live in a world where sarcasm is becoming the norm. Joking, unkind words, and harsh language should be avoided at all times when interacting with students and their families.

When disciplining students, teachers should continue to use a calm tone. Discuss the appropriate behavior with the student and expectations for future behavior. Through this--teachers can create a classroom culture where all students feel safe and learning can occur.

The same expectation for being nice applies to student-to-student interactions in the classroom. Be mindful of what you are modeling. The words you choose, the tone you take, and the non-verbal actions you use every day are pivotal. You are truly an example for the students. They will do what you do.

In closing

As educators, I urge you to begin to reflect and to consider how you build relationships with students and their families, with colleagues, and with members of the community. Set clear expectations. Nurture a positive culture of respect and rapport. Always work to get to know who your students really are--both at school AND outside the brick & mortar walls of the building.

Step outside the box. Be innovative. Individualize instruction to meet the needs and interests of your students. And--always be nice each & every day, both in action and in words.

Bottom line, it is proven through research that relationships make a difference in student performance. Invest time in students and it will pay significant dividends in their academic success.

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