“The Power of Being Seen,” written by Holly Korbey, a freelance journalist for Edutopia, demonstrates a how one middle school on the outskirts of Reno, Nevada made a commitment to actively recognize their students.
Teachers at Cold Springs Middle School constructed an interactive way to acknowledge (and subsequently correct) their own deficiencies with regard to knowing who their students are, beyond their grades and performance in class. “Two big reasons students leave school are that they have no meaningful connection to an adult in the building, and no one knows their name or how to pronounce it,” said Trish Shaffer, the district’s SEL coordinator. “This SEL work isn’t just feel-good: We know through research that relationships and connections keep kids in school.”
In a large after-school event, the teachers wrote the name of every student (all 980 of them) on separate posters; Principal Roberta Duvall asked the staff to indicate with check-marks how well the student is known beyond their name and face and outside classroom performance.
Numerous check marks next to the student’s name indicates how well-known the student is, with a lack of check marks indicating that the student is perhaps “loosely tethered to the school.”
By recognizing the limited nature of their relationships with some of their students, the teachers at Cold Springs Middle School can now thoughtfully develop meaningful connections with students. According to the article, “The activity pushes staff to look beyond their lessons to reflect on how well they actually know their students, driving them to build real connections that can make a difference in a child’s future.”
Empirical data shows that when a child develops meaningful connections with their teachers, they are more likely to succeed academically; in fact, Washoe County District, the district in which Cold Springs is located, has noticed a drastic improvement in reading and math scores, higher attendance, fewer disciplinary infractions, and a district-wide graduation increase of 18% since the implementation of this SEL (social and emotional learning) approach.
The Washoe District utilizes three primary SEL methods:
- welcome rituals and routines
- more engaging or interactive teaching methods
- and end-of-class reflection
At TWIN-CS, we encourage strong interpersonal relationships with all students enrolled at schools in the Network. The key to a student’s success in academics, as well as their social and emotional health, lies in wholesome daily interactions – and students see their teachers almost every day!
Any teachers, principals, or mentors who would like to share any articles, news stories, or tidbits of information that may support our mission here at TWIN-CS are most welcome to do so!
-Melissa Hoppie, Graduate Research Assistant