Over the past few days I run across several instances in my PLN and onsite professional development that stressed that we should build solid relationships with our clients before we try to influence their learning or address their needs. The first was at a school professional development session, and frankly I made note of the emphasis on relationships only because I thought the idea was rather insulting. Now, going through my blog feeds, I find that ASCD is calling for submissions about putting relationships first.
Am I the only one who thinks it is appalling that we need to be reminded of the importance of solid human interaction? Have we as a society degraded so far that we don't understand that human beings come before any agenda? This is hurtful to think. I can only hope that I am misreading the extent of concern for developing relationships.
Having positive human relationships with my students and their parents seems natural to me. I want to work with these people and for these people. They need to know I care about their children and their families. I can't imagine not knowing the names of my 500+ students and their parents. I am thankful that going to the grocery store on Saturdays is going to take three times longer than it should, because I will run into parents and students. I am glad former parents comprise the majority of my Facebook friends.
I compare this need for relationships with my students and families to my need to see my doctor when ill. It would be much quicker to see another practitioner, but my doctor knows me. He knows my husband and kids. He knows I don't usually whine. He knows I overwork. We have a 25+ year relationship with him. The relationship is more important to me than seeing a specialist.
In our jobs we cannot and will not connect with every client we serve. But that should be our goal. And we shouldn't need "experts" to remind us.