Recognizing the Individual
So often we speak about the value of community at Benilde-St.Margaret’s and the importance of recognizing each individual. To know a student does not mean to know only their academic capability. Rather, to know a student includes the ability to recall multiple personal facts about that student as an individual. Additionally, research shows that:
...kids in supportive, secure student-teacher relationships maintained normal stress hormone patterns throughout the week (Anhert et al 2012).
Kids who experience high quality student-teacher relationships at school have fewer behavior problems. They show more engagement in the classroom and better performance too: Studies of verbal skills have found that positive student-teacher relationships have modest, positive effects on academic and personal development (Spilt et al 2015; Schmitt et al 2012; Maldonado-Carreño and Votruba-Drzal 2011).
This winter, our junior high faculty engaged in a community exercise on this very issue. At one of our faculty meetings, I printed the faces of every junior high student on poster boards around the room. I pushed teachers to think beyond each student’s ability to score well on a test or create a tremendous project. If a teacher was able to name three or more personal facts about a student, they were asked to place a dot next to the student’s picture. This exercise was a way for us to gauge student recognition and relationships while also seeing which students we still could get to know better.
I placed these boards in the faculty lounge for one week and watched as dots began to fill the spaces next to each student. Additionally, I had coaches, senior high teachers, and BSM staff stop in to ask if they too could place dots on the pictures of students they know. We are truly a Red Knight family, and your student receives support from adults in many places throughout the building.
At the next faculty meeting, we noticed 13 students without dots and immediately teachers were raising their hands: “I’ll take him/her! S/he’s in my class!” By the end of the meeting, each student had been assigned to one or more adults within the junior high.
This exercise was imperative in ensuring that our students feel connected to our school, our faculty, and our mission. I am so proud to lead a group of faculty and staff who intentionally live out their vocation as a teacher and prove, time and time again, their dedication to being a role model, mentor, coach, and instructional leader in the lives of your students.
Overall, I want to share a huge thank you for sharing your students and your family with us this school year. As an alumna of the junior high, I know how difficult and tiring these years in a student’s life can be; however, I cannot think of a better community than Benilde-St. Margaret’s to nourish, foster, and grow a student’s whole person. It gives me such joy to look back on this school year to see how we have grown, and I know our junior high and the broader Red Knight community will continue to grow and become even stronger.