• Jill Darling

Positive Relationships are One of the Keys to a Student's Success -

Updated: Feb 1, 2019

When you think back on your years in elementary, middle or high school, so many people will remember a particular teacher or certain students who made a difference in their lives. You may not remember all of the academic knowledge that this "special" teacher imparted on you, but you will remember how they lifted you up or made you feel like you mattered. You might also remember certain students with whom you had a great friendship with. Schools need to be places where teachers and students foster positive relationships with each other. When students feel accepted and loved for who they are, we reduce so many barriers to learning.

Well, Sara Reeves and her fabulous staff at Springer Elementary in Rockwall ISD are trying to do just that. Their vision for this year is "Empowering Students To Be Their Best." They have four areas to focus on: Readers and Writers Workshops; Intervention Time; R Time and Family.

The Springer school family seems to be fully embracing the social, emotional learning program called R Time. What I would like to focus on is on how they are implementing the program they they are choosing to use and that they are wanting to make a difference in the lives of their students. Springer Elementary is focusing on fostering positive relationships, as well as on academic success. Many schools, due to standardized testing, tend to focus on academic success, but accidentally forget that we also need to focus on social and emotional learning as well. They both go hand in hand. However, regardless of what social, emotional learning program a school picks, the implementation process is the key.

Springer Elementary has made positive relationships a priority at their school. They conduct an R Time lesson once a week as designed in each classroom. They discuss R Time in staff meetings. Plus Ms. Reeves, the principal, has conducted a survey to see how things are really going with R Time on her campus. This truly shows that they are implementing their chosen program with fidelity. Without program fidelity, no social, emotional learning program can be a success. Here are a few of the results from their survey:

  • 90% of the teachers are seeing a benefit with their students from using the program.

  • 0 - 15 minutes is all it takes of the teacher's time to prepare a lesson and to teach it.

And here are some of the comments teachers are making:

  • "They show more empathy and respect towards each other :-)"

  • "They are learning and practicing on a regular basis how to speak to each other respectfully and paying attention when someone is talking to them."

  • "My students want to work with other friends. They do not get upset when I ask them to work with a student that they don't normally work with. My students are always wanting to help others and use their manners."

  • "The kids love it and NEVER let me forget! (In fact, they were mad that we started school after Christmas break on a Tuesday!) I like that the activities are short and sweet. They are easy to implement, and it's fun to participate with the students."

Positive relationships, empathy, respect, manners and fun....wouldn't it be great if ALL schools made this a priority like Springer Elementary in Rockwall ISD? Think about how great school and the world would be if we all were just a little kinder to each other!

Way to go Ms. Reeves and the Springer Elementary staff! Bravo!!

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