How to Build Effective Relationships at School

Relationships That Work: Four Ways to Connect (and Set Boundaries) with Colleagues, Students and Parents
By Adam Sáenz and Jeremy Dew
(Routledge/Eye on Education, 2015 – Learn more)

purcell aReviewed by Anthony Purcell

Relationships That Work has an interesting approach as the authors are not classroom teachers. They are offering some great insights, from their view as counselors, about how school-based educators can strengthen their relationships with students, parents, and each other.

The book grabbed my attention from the beginning since the story builds on one of the author’s personal story and solidifies the fact that teachers who develop good relationships with their students help them learn.

relationships that work vonstadenIf you’re a new teacher or one who needs to work on building relationships (colleagues, students or parents), this book takes you step by step through a helpful process, leading the reader through writing prompts to find your reason for your career.

I also enjoyed how it pretty much tells you that if you don’t have the right mindset, you should not be teaching.

As you work through the writing and reflecting, the book shares answers that others have given to the same prompts. It helps you know how to reflect and have a better focus of the types of answers that will help you build better relationships. I also liked how the book takes the reader back to the basics of building relationships. It helps each of us find the right path and does not assume that we are all in the same place.

One thing that stuck with me throughout the book was how Sáenz and Dew bring us back to things that they deal with in their own counseling work and how those issues can impact the classroom.

When Sáenz tells the story of building an actual wall between his office practice and his neighbor’s house, it’s not hard to see the connection with non-physical walls. We see that in our relationships, a wall can be a problem, but it can also help others know your boundaries.

Overall, this book is great to help you focus on where you are at and what you can do to help build your relationships with those around you. As Sáenz says, without good relationships, students do not learn all they’re capable of learning.

Anthony Purcell is a native Kansan who has taught in the intermediate and middle school grades. His passion is helping students not just learn what is required by mathematics standards, but to encourage them to see the math that surrounds them everyday. He currently teaches math in Oklahoma, where he has been a part of Oklahoma Math Leadership through the state department of education.

Find a second MiddleWeb review of Relationships That Work here.


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