Many of us have classroom stories attesting to the impact of relationships with students.  February’s RSE-TASC Reporter validates these experiences with research –  that even the perception of having something in common can have a big impact on student achievement (see https://rsetasc.pnwboces.org/teacher-student-relationships-and-academic-achievement/).

The research cited in the article suggests that we can intentionally engineer such relationships.  But reflecting on past classes, the very process of getting to know students better never stopped at just finding interests to ask them about or at identifying commonalities.  What always came with it was what Carol Ann Tomlinson refers to as a caring about and caring for, in her article “One to Grow On / The Caring Teacher’s Manifesto”.  Tomlinson notes that “caring about” students includes being sensitive to them and taking the time to build relationships.  “Caring for” students refers to the active involvement and responsive teaching that follows.

For me, my students with disabilities were my mirror – always pushing me to reflect on what they needed me to do differently or learn more about.  Fostering and nurturing these relationships was a constant reminder that teaching was never about having students adapt to me, it was always about me adapting to them.

How do your relationships with your students with disabilities push your professional thinking and practice?

Tomlinson, C. A. (March 2015).  One to grow on / The caring teacher’s manifesto.  Educational Leadership, 72 (6).  Retrieved from http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/mar15/vol72/num06/The-Caring-Teacher’s-Manifesto.aspx