S1 E13: How to Use Relationships to Support the NGSS classroom

July 18, 2020

In this episode, Nicole talks to Dana Skillman about building relationships in an NGSS classroom. Learn why relationships are so important in an NGSS classroom. Then, learn how to build and foster these relationships.

About Dana (1:07)

Dana started her teaching career as a 3rd grade ELA teacher. She wasn’t happy in her position. So, she started looking for another one.

Then, she was offered a position teaching fourth-grade science. Dana felt intimidated because she did not consider herself a science teacher. But, she decided to take a chance and started teaching science.

Why is it important to build relationships?

Even as an adult, it is hurtful when you don’t feel like someone is taking the time to get to know you. Dana encourages us to remember what it feels like when you don’t feel appreciated or like someone doesn’t like you.

Dana discusses the impact of making your students feel important. Simple actions like greeting your students at the door have a significant impact. In contrast, she says it doesn’t feel good to have students come in and get to work right away without acknowledging them.

Why are relationships especially important in an NGSS classroom?

In an NGSS classroom, the students are doing the heavy lifting. NGSS requires that student work harder. It is difficult to get them to do the work if there aren’t strong relationships in the classroom.

“NGSS is all about [students] doing the heavy lifting. And if they don’t care or they don’t give you any of the effort, then it’s really not NGSS. Because they are really just going through the motions.”

Dana Skillman
Elementary Science Teacher

In contrast, when a student knows that you care about them, they will push themselves. According to Dana “they will give you more.”

It’s also important to realize that we ask students to take a lot of risk in an NGSS classroom. We ask them to do high-level work and they often face more failure than they are used to. Having great relationships makes it easier to take these types of risks.

“It’s not always about you.”

Dana reminds us that students will have issues. When they do, it’s important that you don’t take it personally. Often, behaviors are the result of things that occur outside of the classroom.

When students are having an off day, it is important to check in with them.

What can you do to repair a difficult relationship?

Dana reminds us that it is important to make time for your students that you are having a difficult relationship with. For example, Dana often uses her lunchtime to mend relationships with students. She invites these students to have lunch with her so that she has a chance to talk to them one-on-one.

If lunchtime isn’t a viable option, it is still important to make time.

Create a classroom culture where there is open communication. (41:54)

Dana recalls a time when her students were behaving inappropriately during an activity. She called a classroom meeting and asked students why the negative behaviors occurred. She asked students what she could do differently to support them.

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