Teacher: You had so much to offer yesterday. You okay?

Aiden: I'm tired.

Teacher: So what's going on?

Dr. Linda Darling-Hammond: Strong relationships are central to the learning process. 

What the science of learning and development tells us is that we need to create learning environments, which allow for strong, long-term relationships for children to become attached to school and to the adults and other children in it.

Dr. Pamela Cantor: When children have experiences of closeness and consistency and trust, oxytocin is released. And oxytocin has many, many positive effects on the development of the brain. So when we think about a relationship, we're not just talking about being nice to a child. We're talking about a child having an experience of attunement and trust strong enough to release the hormone oxytocin. 

Falon Turner: Good morning, Ariella! How are you doing today?

The purpose of the morning greeting is to connect with them and to just make sure that I'm seeing them as humans. Like I'm making that relationship with them, making that bond. 

Catherine Paul: I prioritize relationship building, because getting to know them is the best part of the job.

Salma: When I come in in the morning, we usually talk about things that are happening in our community.

Catherine Paul: We're trying to build caring and respect.

Salma: Teacher is trying to understand who I am, and my values as a person.

Kirsten McWilliams: When I have a free 45 minutes or an hour, I think to myself I could sit down and catch up on grading, or I could go and make connections, whether it's a smile, or a joke, or a reminder that validates their presence in the building. 

Lindsey Minder: Rock it out in the art room. 

It starts from so much honest and transparency with kids. It's really easy to strive to be this like idealized, always ready to go, elementary school teacher. And that's not real, and that's not human. 

When people start talking about other things while I'm still giving direction, it feels frustrating for me, and I have to take a breath. [deep breath]

My students connect most with me when they see that I also struggle, and I also have challenges. It takes a lot of vulnerability on my part.

Bobby Shaddox: When that student knows that you care about them, when they know that you're a human, their academic performance in your class is going to be better. 

Cassidy: If I'm comfortable around them then I'm more confident around them, and it's easier to ask questions and things like that.

Teacher: So when you're looking at this graph, what is it that you think happened?

Aiden: Some teachers I don't always get along with the best. So at times, I'm like, "I can't do it!" So I'm just not going to do it. But when I like the teacher, I want to do their work. And I'll be like, "I can learn this." 

Teacher: You all have done outstanding work.

Dr. Linda Darling-Hammond: Emotion and learning are completely connected.

Teacher:  There again!

Dr. Linda Darling-Hammond: If you're in a positive emotional space, if you feel good about yourself, your teacher. That actually opens up the opportunity for more learning.

Teacher: Good to see you.

Student: Today, uhm.

Credit: Edutopia

My daughter's wedding was Saturday. I can't even begin to write all the stories of kindness, but on the day of, I had so many things to do it was impossible. I had to pick up the cake, macarons, candles, baskets, all in different towns. I left early, drove out, got there, and didn't have my wallet!!! I was not going to make it home and back to do everything. 

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Treat everyone as if they're your best friend. Speak kindly, encourage and help where you can. With an attitude of LOVE you can touch the heart of every stranger. - quote

I was so excited that my childhood friend from Sweden was in Sydney with her family and making the effort to fly to Melbourne to see me.

On the morning of her arrival, I set off to drop my son at school before going to the airport. He was driving and as we sat at the lights, the driver next to us honked and pointed at the ground at the front of our car. We wound down the window and he informed us that the tyre was flat. We thanked him for letting us know. As we drove to the closest service station to investigate, my son said he thought the steering felt a bit strange.

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It can sometimes be difficult to get students, especially those in higher grades, to open up but this is a fun way of encouraging students to let their guard down a little. 

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One year at Christmas my husband and I dropped one of our cars off for service and headed out to shop. Earlier in the week I had contacted the local elementary school to see if there was a child in need. I was told about a little boy who didn’t even have socks to wear with his shoes in the winter. We shopped for our children and spent a little over $150 on the little boy. read more →

If you are looking for classroom incentives for positive behavior and effort I highly encourage you to create a Punch It! Board. It’s super easy to make and something the students in my class never tire of! 

This is an incentive system that can be adapted to any classroom and great for use at home use as well.

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"Every child deserves a champion, an adult who will never give up on them, who understands the power of connection, and insists that they become the best that they can possibly be."
- Rita Pierson

This is especially true in education. So many kids get lost in a system that's geared toward the masses. A system that favours academic achievement over personal growth.

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Parents have to model good behavior to their kids, not just give it lip service. - quote

I offered a little old lady some of our leftover muffins when I noticed she had accidentally dropped hers on the floor at the restaurant. read more →

My Mum took us into the city for a night as a treat over the school holidays. read more →

When we flew home recently, the airline somehow mixed our seats up. My daughter and I were on opposite sides of the plane, 9 rows apart, on a full flight. read more →

If you have much, give your wealth. If you have little, give your heart. Quote

When I was a new young, single Mom, my son was always sick. They weren’t sure what was wrong with him but we were always at the doctors and getting medication.

My work was limited because I was spending so much time with him at the doctors.

Anyhow, one day I was at the pharmacy trying to fill his prescription and there had been an error. It was taking forever and many people were in line behind me. The frustration was escalating for everyone and the pharmacist said I could just pay for the prescription (that was supposed to be covered 100%) and get reimbursed later. The problem was I didn’t have any money. read more →

Teaching character traits at home and in the classroom

It’s a given that most parents want their children to grow up with good values and character traits. Kindness, compassion, perseverance and honesty are just some of the traits we want to instill in our kids. But how are character traits developed?

Charles Starkey, Associate Professor of Philosophy studies emotion theory and moral psychology. He says that character traits are determined by our values but that emotions also play a huge role. In short, kids need emotional intelligence and to see positive character traits in others to adopt them.

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