Successful after school learning starts with the relationship between after school staff and the students they serve. At LitART, we use the five A’s of relating to ensure staff are always aiming to cultivate positive relationships with students.
I am present. When you are with your students, stay “in the moment.” As educators, we tend to think ahead, plan the next experience, think about what just happened, or worry about what could happen. We seem to live our whole lives thinking about “what’s next” or what happened in the past. Make it your goal when you enter the classroom to leave the past behind, put the future out of your mind, and truly “see” and “hear” your students. Be present. You are “now here” or nowhere. Small change, big difference.
I see and hear you. Students want and need positive attention. You can learn a great deal about your students just by observing and listening. Take the time to get to know your students. A simple question followed by active listening is a great way to show you are interested and to learn about your students.
I understand you. Students need to be accepted as they are. Being angry, happy, excited, bored, energetic, and tired are all natural parts of life. Express empathy. Help students identify and express their feelings. Embrace the array of interests, attitudes, and points of view in your class. Model respectful understanding of individual differences. Teach tolerance through your actions.
I like you. Show you appreciate students. Let them know through direct statements, smiles, listening, and showing genuine interest. “Thanks for your help with putting away the materials.” “That’s a cool shirt.”
I trust you. Demonstrate you trust students by providing opportunities to self manage. For example, students should be able to access and distribute materials for learning activities in their own. Of course, it may take time and coaching to teach students how do it! Offer choices that allow students to have a voice in important decisions. As students show an increasing capacity to self-manage, increase their level of responsibility for what happens after school.