In this post, I reveal a few of my approaches and beliefs regarding relationship building in teacher education. Through coursework and conversations (in and out of my classroom), I guide undergraduate and graduate students in the College of Education to become confident educators. Relationship building is beneficial to my students, their future PK-12 students, and myself.

To help my students discover and reach their highest learning potential, I create a supportive atmosphere built on relationships. Relationship building cultivates understanding of my students’ interests, goals, background experiences, cultural underpinnings, and encumbering narratives. I use this information to influence their professional and personal growth, and create rigorous yet encouraging conditions where curiosities can thrive. Specifically, I make content relevant and student-driven, build necessary background knowledge, differentiate instruction, foster resilience and confidence, and deliver engaging presentations. These aspects reveal some of the ways I model being culturally responsive. Related, I build sensitivity to cultural and linguistic diversity among PK-12 students. For example, I (a) share experiences teaching Spanish-speaking kindergarteners to draw attention to processes and perceptions of second language learners, and (b) hold conversations to raise awareness about inequities in education. In a recent online class, my students listened to a radio episode on Culturally Responsive Teaching (CRT) and then discussed how relationships in the classroom influence CRT and learning capacity. Current events also prove useful to advance human understanding, empathy, and consciousness about equity. A former blog post shares a way I prompted students to ponder their role as educators regarding violent, hateful events that occurred in Charlottesville on August 12. The supportive atmosphere I form based on human connection prepares educators capable of addressing varied student needs, and drives students’ motivation to attend class each week. The benefits are reciprocal and contribute to my love of teaching.

I would love to hear how other teacher educators view and foster beneficial relationships with their preservice teachers!

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