One of the things I do is coordinate the Fast ForWord program in our district. This program uses the knowledge of neuroscience to provide intensive intervention to students identified (using Response to Intervention Model) in Tier 3 or Tier 2 who are significantly struggling in reading.
Many times I’ve been asked “how do you motivate students”? This is usually during the time when the newness of the Fast ForWord exercises (plays like video games) wear off and it’s clearly drudgery that takes over. This might happen during week one (sigh) or perhaps pop up in week three. If you’re lucky, you won’t see the effects for quite some time.
One of the challenges of any program is that teachers expect the program to be the motivator and all they have to do is get the student into the building. While Fast ForWord does have embedded bells and whistles, when you hit the wall, it just isn’t enough. My secret to the universe is no secret at all. It is simply … “relationships“. Relationships that build on being the champion of the individual student. It is overt and open and honest, not simply implied. In good times and bad. Students need to know that you are the ‘wind beneath their wings’, especially when they get tired and frustrated. The act of learning to read is a strenuous workout for the brain (equal to a marathon run). Knowing that you have a safe harbour to rest, gain strength and much needed encouragement goes a long way. Put another way, Bev Ogilvie says,
“connectedness makes the world go round. It brings out creativity and helps everyone around us flourish. … It engenders hope, rekindles our inner light and allows us to feel joy. Our power comes from who we are, not from what we do or what we have.” [ConnectZone.org. p.162]
These words ring even more powerful as we go through our busy days. Sometimes I feel it takes super powers to stop, remind ourselves to purposefully and intentionally take the initiative to connect deeply with our students, to listen with open hearts and in doing so, help them feel they have a belonging place. Relationship is foundational to the process. However I have no right way to go about this. How do you go about building relationships or connections with your students? Would love your comments or suggestions.