Teachers are focused on building better relationships with students, and also between students. The building of more trusting relationships is seen as crucial to improving the learning environment.
“Strong, authentic relationships are crucial to our work,” said Superintendent Jen Cheatham. “Achievement gaps can persist in part when there is a lack of the safe community and support to engage in challenging and meaningful work.”
Achievement gaps are a concern for students of color, as their test scores lag behind white students in the district. Teachers and administrators are focusing on breaking down walls to allow learning to happen.
“Kids aren’t going to be able to take risks and push themselves academically, without having a trusting support network there,” said Lindsay Maglio, principal of Lindbergh Elementary School. Some of the teachers at Lindbergh deepened the usual getting to know you activities at the start of school by asking more detailed questions. Students at Lindbergh participate in small group sessions with staff throughout the year to build community.
It is already a major priority to get to know students, but the district strategy that emphasizes it helps staff to go deeper, and provides a reminder. “It’s a good push to remind us,” said fourth grade teacher Beth Callies.