Relationships at the Core

My friend and an educator that I have incredible admiration for, Bill Ferriter, recently wrote a post titled, “The Best Innovation Ever” where he discusses the importance of relationships in his classroom environment. He wrote the following:

It was a different kind of year for me for one simple reason:  I stopped scrambling to find the “latest and greatest innovation” to integrate into my classroom instruction. 

I didn’t try to flip my curriculum.  I ignored efforts to make digital portfolios a priority in my room.  I met — but never tried to exceed — my school’s expectations that I integrate complex text into every lesson.  I ditched my own efforts to make short videos demonstrating places where you could see my required curriculum in the real world.

And instead, I focused on making sure that all of my students felt recognized and valued and appreciated.  I wanted them to feel noticed — something that doesn’t always happen in schools.

Simple, right?  Maybe the key to improved learning and engaged students DOESN’T depend on access to new technologies or pedagogical strategies.  Maybe it depends on remembering that kids are the most engaged when they feel appreciated.

Love. Love. Love.

I agree with Bill, but I also know that it is not just about relationships, yet they are the core of what we do. Without them, in our schools (for students and staff) we won’t be able to do the “next big thing” or even the “current thing” with any depth.

In my upcoming book with Katie Novak, entitled “Innovate Inside the Box” (due out August 15, 2019) I share the “Core of Innovative Teaching and Learning” and how relationships are at the center of what we do.


I think all of the aspects on the outside are important, but they are better developed when relationships are at the core of what we do.

Can you learn from people you don’t like, and there is no relationship present? Of course. I contend that you can often learn more, and when you trust people and know you are cared for, much more can be accomplished.  Bill’s post is an excellent reminder of where education needs to begin.

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