Every week I answer the questions posed in ClassDojo’s weekly chat, #dojoChatEU. It happens every Wednesday from 8:30pm and it brings together teachers from around Europe. This week’s topic is fostering positive relationships.
Q1. Which famous person would you like to be friends with?
I know it’s probably a cliché to say that I’ve never really thought about this, but I haven’t. The first names that pop into my head pale into insignificance as I don’t really know what we’d have to talk about. I guess I’d like to meet someone who I could chat to who might be in a position to empower change as I am limited in this aspect. There are certain aspects of the Irish Education System that I have serious issues with in terms of inequality, especially on the basis of religious discrimination. I don’t know what famous person could sit down with me and listen and understand and then allow the changes to come. Perhaps, the head of the Catholic Church in Ireland might be one person or maybe a politician who could enforce the change through law. However, if I was to just hang out with someone for no reason except for the fun of it, I wouldn’t mind hanging out with anyone from Anchorman or Zoolander films!
Q2. How important is it to foster positive relationships in school?
For me, it’s the most important thing to do. I’m not sure how good I am at doing so but I’d like to think my school is a happy place to work and learn. I have some challenges in terms of access to the school as we have such a tiny car park but we’re slowly but surely trying new things out to make the place as welcoming as possible.
Q3. How do you foster a positive relationship with your pupils?
When I qualified as a teacher, I was told, don’t smile until Christmas. It was the worst advice I ever got. Mutual respect is key when fostering respect with our children. I think it’s very important to agree to rules and boundaries at the start of the year and constantly remind them of these rules. There also has to be a reason to keep the rules and rewards play a big part of this. ClassDojo is an excellent tool for these purposes and I believe every classroom should be using it. However, there are other ways to recognise positive behaviours and relationships in the school and assembly time is always a decent way to put this forward.
Q4. A relationship has broken down with a colleague in school, how do you go about fixing this?
It’s a tricky one and it does take two people to solve something like this. It has happened to me in the past and sometimes there isn’t a way of fixing it. I have a 3 strike rule. I ignore the first time someone does something that gets to me. The second time, I note it to myself and promise if there is a 3rd time, I will do something. Up until then, I make sure not to be affected by the behaviour and make a stronger effort to make amends (even if I don’t think I’ve done anything!) However, on the third time, I speak to the person to try and resolve it. This may make things worse but I feel if I do my bit, at least I have tried. If the relationship is not fixable (and I don’t think this is generally ever the case) I will give the person some time and maybe offer small gestures to re-establish a relationship. However, sometimes one has to say to oneself, that the person doesn’t want to fix the problem and at this point, it is their problem.
Q5. Can you share a picture or quote about positive relationships and what they mean to you.
“They may forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel.”
— Carl W. Buechner