Consider this your friendly public service announcement: Take time in your classroom and help your students build friendships. It might be the most important lesson we teach.
We can talk all we want about grades, we can look at all the data, and we can create academic masterminds if we need to. BUT--I prefer to start at the most basic level: learning how to be a friend and learning what a friend is.
As my teaching years progress, the area that continues to trump everything is social and emotional learning. Kids need this help and it's our responsibility to give them the tools and strategies to help them as they grow.
Don't know where to begin?
-Start morning meetings that focus on the kids and their interests.
-Ask your students what it means to be a friend
-Talk with your social worker in the building.
-Read a book.
-Use a positive growth mindset
There's no bad time to start. Teaching your students what it means to be a friend to others (teachers, students, family) fosters relationships and build trust with everyone.
Nicole, at The Learning Lab, used a set of my How To Be A Friend posters on her door in school. It's a great reminder for students to see as they're walking in and out of the classroom all day.
If you need/want these visuals for your classroom grab one of the free sets here. They're an easy and effective tool the give kids strategies to follow when working, playing, and navigating friendships.
Friendships and relationships make the world work, so take some time and make it a priority in your school and classroom this year.