Resident Reflection: Building Relationships with Students

In my daily experience, there is something incredibly sweet about 7:30am; it is at this time that I receive the fortune of being greeted by 25 amazing little humans. No matter what my evening held or what their mornings might have entailed, I know that when the time hits 7:30am and our students walk through the front door and line up in front of our classroom, I get the opportunity to greet each one of them. During these interactions, we greet one another, ask the other person how they are doing, and I ask the scholar if they would like a high-five, a handshake, or a hug. It is during this time that I get to hear about Stacey’s night at her dad’s house and check to make sure that Cameron walked to school in a warm coat and have Za’nya excitedly tell me that the tooth fairy came last night. These are the sweet moments which keep me grounded.

I believe that it is these brief yet profound daily moments which bond me with my students. See, I joined this classroom about a month after school had already begun; due to unforeseen circumstances and classroom cuts, I moved into this first grade classroom after—I feared—trust and relationships with my mentor had already been solidified. But students are resilient, children are malleable and accepting. Immediately, I felt welcomed into this room by my mentor and the students alike and I soon took on the responsibility of that morning greeting time. It was during these times that I got the privilege of interacting with my students in a non-academic setting and learn about them as more than just scholars—I learned about their interests, their families, their humor. My students did not have to accept me as their teacher, they did not have to trust me or believe what I said to be true; but upon the foundation of intentionally building those relationships, my students saw me as their teacher.

I think that the pure innocence of our students is visible at this time of day; although some of our students have experienced horrific life situations before the age of seven and many carry that trauma with them into the classroom, this is a beautiful time of day during which they are given the space to tell me how they have been since I have last seen them and they are given power in this moment—as small as it may seem, they are given the power to choose how to interact with me. Every day they are welcomed into our classroom with a clean slate; what happened yesterday has been forgiven and everyone has the opportunity to make the right decisions today. These morning greetings partnered with the power of the relationship have the potential to be the catalysts for a great day.

-Alison Farnsworth (MTR resident, Class of 2019)