November 19

Chapter 10-Doors and Windows: Remembering to Explore All Options

When you find yourself stuck in a situation with a student in which you feel there is no way out, what do you do? According to Souers, we really need to step back and look at the whole situation, including all the options, rather than moving in to the ultimatum. Giving yourself the permission to look for the window when you come up against a locked door is imperative. This might be hard for us to do, especially if we are used to using the ultimatum.

Change is difficult. It is also important to remember that change take a lot of time and patience. During these difficult situations we will make  mistakes and so will our students. They need us to help them learn the skills to make it through the difficult situations in which they find themselves. We, as teachers, need to know that the students will not learn these skills overnight, the first time we teach them.

The activity on page 125, teaching us to widen our peripheral vision, is a great strategy to help us out of the ultimatum situation. Once we are better able to expand our focus from the incident with the student to the bigger picture, we can see that there are, in fact, many different possibilities that can be explored and that the ultimatum is not the solution at all.

Think about a time when you gave a student/child an ultimatum. Looking back, because we always have much better vision when we look at something a second time, was there something you could have done better?


November 12

Chapter 9- Names, Labels, and the Need for Control

For me, this chapter was more difficult to read/hear. Since it is my job to designate students in order to get adequate support, hearing that “this deficit-focused orientation leads to unhealthy interactions and, often, students seeking inappropriate and disruptive ways to have their needs met” (page 116) makes me feel a bit like we are wrong to give a student a designation, more specifically a behaviour designation. I do believe that designations are important, but so is understanding our students, how they learn and what they need in order to be successful.

The section on I can’t….but I can…is a very important reminder for me. It is so important for all of us to remember that many things are out of our control, but there are things within those areas with which we can control. For example, many mornings I struggle with my son to get him out the door. I need to remember that I can’t control how long it takes him to get on his shoes, backpack and jacket, but I can control my frustration by taking a deep breath and reminding him calmly to keep on task.

What are some of the things you might not be able to control? What might you be able to control within that situation?

November 5

Chapter 8- The Power of Relationship

Relationships are absolutely integral in life. Teaching is no different. It is next to impossible to teach a student with whom you have no relationship. Those students with whom you struggle to connect will cause problems within the classroom or will simply stop attending. Rita Pierson, in her April 2013 TED Talk, discusses this exactly.

Chapter 8 discusses the ways in which we build relationships with our students. The first ingredient for relationship building is trust. Another key ingredient is building a safe environment an invites a sense of belonging as well. Some safe environment must-haves include a safe and secure school and school ground, clear behavioural expectations,an open-door policy for family members and clear routines, among others.

Relationships with students are key when having to deal with behaviours that arise. We need to be aware that students need to be held accountable for their choices and actions but we do not always have to be heavy-handed with these consequences. Although consequences are appropriate at times, and should be used to hold students accountable for their actions, we also need to teach them appropriate ways to cope with the stressors that may be behind the behaviours. We need to ensure that we validate the student’s feelings during these times of need. Reminding them that they are safe is also imperative to help them back into a regulated state. These two things need to happen before moving on to teaching them how to respond more appropriately to their stress and allowing them to take some control back into their lives.

Pete reminds us “It doesn’t take any longer than that (seven seconds) to make someone’s day, no matter how his or her day began.”


Who was the teacher that made a difference in your life? What did they do that was so memorable? How do you/could you incorporate some of that teacher’s characteristics into your own life?


What could you do to make someone’s day?

November 1

Part 3- Chapter 7 No One Said Relationship is Easy

How do we create strong, emotional relationships with our students? According to the author we go the extra mile, giving of our time and energy for those students. We let them know how much we care about them and we wonder about them in the future. For me, the very first student with whom I created that strong, emotional bond was a boy in my first teaching position, on a reserve in northern Alberta. He was not in my class for long, a foster child who was returned to his family before Christmas, but to this day I still think of him often. Some how, once he moved back home with his family, he got my phone number and when he had had a particularly rough day, he would phone me, at 2:00 in the morning. I fought to get him back in to foster care to no avail and I never saw him again. He is an adult now and I have heard, from friends still in the region, that he is happy and doing well. I do know that these relationships do not happen with every student and that is okay too.

Kristin Souers does say that, even though we cannot create a deep relationship with every student, it is possible to create a relationship that is safe enough and healthy enough for every student that crosses our path. This means we need to create an environment that is consistent and positive. We need to ensure that every student leaves our room with their integrity still intact. These things will ensure that the students feel safe. An environment that is healthy enough would include one in which reparations are made whenever it is necessary, and the teacher ensure that appropriate social interactions are modeled and cultivated. Can I say that I have done this for every student in my past? No, probably not for every single student, although I did try. I can think of one student in particular. I taught him last year and in trying to get him support him and grow his work, I believe he saw me as a threat to his intelligence. He told me once that he wanted to learn everything because he wanted to be a genius, but would not take feedback as opportunities to learn and improve. He also stopped completing his homework and coming to school. I failed this student and will always wonder how I could have made our relationship better.


Do you have a student or students with whom you have created a lasting relationship? How about any students with whom you were not able to connect?

What are some strategies that you can use to be safe enough and or healthy enough for all of your students?

November 1

Chapter 4- November: I am a Valued Member of This Learning Community

Relationships, relationships, relationships. They are so important in every aspect of our lives! Think about this for a second, if you did not have a positive relationship with your friend, would you want to hang out with them? The same could be said for the student-teacher relationship. Why would you expect a student to want to be in your class and learn from you if they did not like you when you do not enjoy spending time with people whom you have relationship?

There are many great ideas in this chapter that give you ideas on how to build your relationships with your students. Some other ideas include attending their extracurricular events, such a a hockey, soccer or baseball game, going to a dance or skating recital, watching their play or music concert. I live in a small town so it may be easier for me to build and foster relationships with my students, I see them everywhere- the grocery store, the playground, the pool, the hockey arena- everywhere! It also helps that I have a school-aged child of my own who also attends the school in which I work. Building relationships with the students can be as simple as saying good morning, giving a smile and asking how their day is going when you see them for the first time at school. Addressing them by name is also so very important. As a Learning Assistance Teacher, I have the wonderful opportunity to get to work with all of the students in the school, and I make it a priority to learn each and every student’s name. Since there is a chance that I will be in their classroom or working with the directly at some point in the year, I want them to know that I value them.

Relationship building is not only reserved to the students. We also need to build relationships with the parents. Again coming at this from a small town, I know many of the parents of the students I work with. The difficulty I have had however, is keeping the majority of them in the loop more than just with our reporting periods. Some parents hear from me much too often due to difficulties with the behaviour of their children, so it is imperative that I am in contact with them regularly. This year, it is my goal to keep in touch with all of my parents, even if it is just a quick note to say what we are working on this week and how they can support their student, or a quick note to say how hard their child is working on their learning activities. This is my goal this year!

SD 27 put out a wonderful 12 minute video on how their district is working on building strong relationships and the benefits they are seeing from doing so.


How are you working on building relationships with your students? Your parents? Your colleagues?

What are some of the activities that you do at the beginning and throughout the year that help to build on these relationships?