THE CORE STRATEGY. When teachers connect one-to-one — with fellow teachers, parents, the principal, community members — we gain support. Our effectiveness in informing the community or influencing policy is very limited when we speak out alone. So a key step is to build teacher community relationships.
ONE ON ONES. Community organizers tell us that their most effective tool for promoting a change in policy or a new initiative is one-on-one relational meeting. Main characteristics:
- A person-to-person sit-down with someone you need to connect with or work with. This may be a friendly colleague, but it may be an opponent or someone external to your present work.
- It’s not for gaining support for your ideas, but for the two of you to get to know each other better and build trust.
- Even with a friend or good acquaintance, you’ll be surprised at what you learn.
- It’s main purpose is to build trust and understanding as a basis for future cooperation.
See the attached guide on conducting a one-on-one.
OPEN THE CLASSROOM DOOR. Teachers rarely get to see one another actually teaching. Parents and community members often have little awareness of what takes place in an outstanding classroom. Visits to your classroom and your visits to others can build connections, understanding, and support for your work.
- When inviting someone to your classroom, meet first – even if only a brief time is available – and explain your goals and plans for your lesson. Tell what you’d like him or her to watch for. Then meet to discuss afterward.
- After visiting another teacher’s classroom, invite that teacher to share her own thoughts about what took place and how it went. The aim should be thoughtful reflection, not evaluation.
- To maintain trust and honesty, avoid administrator monitoring of visits.
Tell us your stories about building connections and how they have helped you. Submit below.