Intuition to intention - The Journey So Far

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Crescent School Relationships


<ul><li><p>FROM INTUITIONTO INTENTION </p><p>THE JOURNEY SO FAR</p></li><li><p>Which relationships shaped you?</p><p>It is worth a moment to consider which relationships have shaped you and why. Consider the commitment and perseverance that this person showed you. Think about the actions, role modelling and words they used in their relationship with you. The picture above gives you some idea of mine. Each week my Dad took me to the soccer match. On the way we talked. He was an encourager, a listener and someone who challenged me to see the best of each day.</p></li><li><p>THE JOURNEY SO FAR ...</p><p>Last June, we sat as a faculty and listened as Dr. Michael Reichert shared his studies into the impact and apparent centrality of relationships to learning. It provoked a lot of conversation and questioning around a topic that, although we hadnt put a name to it before, clearly meant a lot to us. Our relationships matter at Crescent.</p><p>In August, we came together again to begin to imagine what the impact would be on our School if we decided to more intentionally position relationships at the heart of what we do. Our goal is to allow learning to occur through our teaching. If relationship is indeed such a vital bridge between teaching and learning, then we cannot afford to leave it up to our intuition.</p><p>The work became titled From Intuition to Intention. Over the 2014/2015 school year, we committed to examining this journey together. </p><p>This booklet is designed to update you on the work done so far and the steps we hope to take next.</p></li><li><p>Relational Learning: the Value Proposition</p><p>It is worth taking time to consider thoughtfully the value of placing relational learning into the conversation and our thinking as we evaluate the Schools strategic direction.</p><p>Some areas of value to consider:</p><p>1. "Relationship" underpins our mission.</p><p>Our mission charts the journey of a boy towards becoming a Man of Character. We have been drawn to understand the need to define our understanding of Character against the backdrop of an educational setting in which the word Character has become ubiquitous. Amongst other key definitions, the role of relationships, excellent teachers and mentors are likely to underpin our mission. The level of symmetry between character and relational learning is exciting and value-added.</p><p>2. "Relationship" captures the values of the community.</p><p>An obviously vibrant and authentic part of our community are relationships. It is not a stretch for us to see the importance of this within our School community and also in our applicant pool. Extending our strategic thinking to focus on relationships and their role in learning lands positively within a vocabulary that is understood and valued by our community.</p><p>3. "Relationship" as a core pillar of Crescent has potential to be a key differentiator.</p><p>The desire to focus on and institutionally understand and develop relational learning has potential to be a key differentiator. Our early work has already led to opportunities to host many educators and speak at an exciting variety of international venues and schools. In addition, it is a language that appeals to prospective parents who want to know that connecting relationally with their son lies at the heart of learning. As we seek to differentiate ourselves from our competitors in meaningful, confident and groundbreaking ways, relational learning has the potential to provide us with some of those competitive differentiations. </p><p>4. "Relationship" is the key to learning.</p><p>While we recognize that we have much to think through from the research and our experience, we are compelled to see the truth in the power of relationship as a key through which boys access learning in a deeper way. On a very fundamental and altruistic level then, finding a method by which we can be intentional in our approach on this topic holds great value for us.</p></li><li><p>A Focus on SEARCH</p><p>We have spent time focusing on Reichert and his gestures.</p><p>Of increasing interest is the work the SEARCH Institute has done in creating its Developmental Relationship Framework.</p><p>As we move forward please consider this framework. Feedback is appreciated.</p><p> 2014Copyright 2014 by Search Institute. </p><p>All rights reserved.</p><p>Both researchers and practitioners have long embraced the idea that interaction with caring adults is central to young peoples development. New research being conducted at Search Institute confirms that conviction, but we are also finding that both caring and adults are necessary but not sufficient strands in the broader web of relationships that kids need to succeed. In addition to expressing care, young people also need people in their lives who challenge growth, provide support, share power, and expand possibilities. And while relationships with adults can do all of those things in powerful and positive ways, so can close connections with friends, siblings, and other peers. </p><p>Search Institute has adopted the term developmental relationships to describe the broader conception of relationships that is the focus of our new research and development agenda. Through our work to date, we have identified 20 actions that make a relationship developmental, and we have organized those actions into a framework that is being examined empirically through a national study that will be released in fall 2014. In the most transformative developmental relationships, all of these actions are bidirectional, with each person contributing to and benefitting from them. For the purpose of clarity, however, the framework is expressed below from the perspective of one young person in a developmental relationship.</p><p>A Research Update from Search Institute: Developmental Relationships</p><p>The Developmental Relationships Framework</p><p>Express CARE Show that you like me and </p><p>want the best for me. </p><p> Be PresentPay attention when you are with me.</p><p> Be WarmLet me know that you like being with me and express positive feelingstoward me.</p><p> InvestCommit time and energy to doing things for and with me.</p><p> Show InterestMake it a priority to understand who I am and what I care about.</p><p> Be DependableBe someone I can count on and trust.</p><p>CHALLENGE Growth Insist that I try to </p><p>continuously improve.</p><p> InspireHelp me see future possibilities for myself.</p><p> ExpectMake it clear that you want me to live up to my potential.</p><p> StretchRecognize my thoughts and abilities while also pushing me to strengthen them.</p><p> LimitHold me accountable for appropriate boundaries and rules.</p><p>Provide SUPPORT Help me complete tasks </p><p>and achieve goals.</p><p> EncouragePraise my efforts and achievements.</p><p> GuideProvide practical assistance and feedback to help me learn.</p><p> ModelBe an example I can learn from and admire.</p><p> AdvocateStand up for me when I need it.</p><p>Share POWER Hear my voice and let me share in making decisions.</p><p> RespectTake me seriously and treat me fairly.</p><p> Give VoiceAsk for and listen to my opinions and consider them when you makedecisions.</p><p> RespondUnderstand and adjust to my needs, interests, and abilities.</p><p> CollaborateWork with me to accomplish goals and solve problems.</p><p>Expand POSSIBILITIES Expand my horizons and </p><p>connect me to opportunities.</p><p> ExploreExpose me to new ideas, experiences, and places.</p><p> ConnectIntroduce me to people who can help me grow.</p><p> NavigateHelp me work through barriers that could stop me from achieving my goals.</p></li><li><p>A Pledge</p><p>As staff, we spent time discussing and recording what we thought should be included if we were to create a School vision for relationships at Crescent. This would capture our culture, embed the research and aspire to enrich learning. A smaller group collated all those thoughts and condensed them into the following DRAFT PLEDGE. Please read it over. It absolutely needs additions and subtractions but is an excellent start. What do you think?</p><p>Our Pledge to Relational Learning at Crescent</p><p>Our commitment to relationships has a clear goal and objective. We believe that through relationships, boys will unlock their full learning potential. We desire that his learning will be deep and reflective and felt in all aspects of his Crescent journey, both in the classroom and out. We believe that through relationships a boy will be drawn to reflect on his emerging character. We aspire for relationships to be the foundation from which our boys will leave our school to go on to be reflective, relationally driven Men of Character.</p><p>1. Relational teaching is a shared responsibility of a collaborative team of educators.</p><p>We recognize the importance of ensuring that a Crescent boy experiences relationship that leads to connection, a feeling of value and ultimately will be key to all kinds of deep learning. We also recognize that we are part of a relational journey for our boys in which each educator is one humble part of a larger relational connection a boy has to his learning. It is also an important truth that relationships can be difficult and vulnerable. A team approach in which ego is eliminated and in which failing or broken relationships can be collaboratively supported is highly desirable.</p><p>2. Authentic sharing and role modelling is the foundation for relational learning.</p><p>We will role model meaningful and healthy relationships by personally engaging in authentic and reciprocal conversations and gestures with our boys, colleagues and members of the Crescent community in all venues within school life.</p><p>3. All faculty and staff believe that every boy is a distinct individual.</p><p>Each boy will receive unique and individualized care intended to unleash his full potential. He will understand that he is known his interests, learning needs and passions. He will feel that he is supported in finding his spark. Relationships with a collaborative team of educators will provide him the best chance to realize this.</p></li><li><p>4. We strive to recognize and celebrate the unique characteristics of every individual boy.</p><p>Our goal is to foster and promote an open and supportive environment that nurtures each boys confidence to feel buoyed and determined to try new experiences throughout his time at Crescent. By recognizing and appreciating the individuality of the unique physical, emotional and social developmental journey of each boy, the collaborative team of Crescent faculty will endeavour to build meaningful relationships with every student throughout their personal journey.</p><p>5. In our boys, we aspire to grow their emotional intelligence and personal investment in their relationships.</p><p>We recognize that as educators we must always continue to seek the development of even the most challenging of relationships. However in tandem with this unswerving commitment to relationship in service of learning, we want our boys to grow towards a sensitive understanding and ownership of their own relationships, seeing themselves as full partners in their relationships.</p></li><li><p>Our Unique Perspective</p><p>It is becoming increasingly apparent that Crescent has a very unique and powerful perspective on Relational Learning. Below is how I tried to capture that unique desire in a report to the Board. Incidentally, this approach was not one Dr. Reichert initially considered but it has now provoked some new thinking.</p><p>Our Unique Perspective</p><p>1. Why is a Relational Team approach exciting?</p><p>Reichert guides us to focus his findings on an individual teacher-and-student relationship. Our faculty and leadership have reported that while this is the vital starting point of relationship, they do not feel it is enough. Instead we are interested in exploring an institutionally intentional approach to advancing a Relational Team approach. This would be a unique and quite audacious perspective among schools examining this topic. </p><p>It puts the focus on the boys relational journey through the school, not the teachers.</p><p>We have seen so many fantastic moments of breakthrough for a boy when his connection and spark towards learning ignites. It is a powerful thing to witness and often comes attached to a relational connection with a specific teacher. However closer examination nearly always shows a relational commitment, often maintained in the absence of that spark or relationship acknowledgment, over a period of years by many teachers. These relationships primed the boy to take advantage of the moment when he was ready to embrace his learning. In essence, we believe the relational investment of our Grade 3 teacher onwards lays the foundations on which the grade 11 teachers can have the breakthrough in learning. Each relational cog adds to the demonstration of care that builds the developmental assets of the boy.</p><p>It mitigates the possibility of ego-driven relationship</p><p>A concern in focusing on relational learning as a marker of a great teacher is that it promotes an unhealthy pursuit of popularity rather than a relationship for learning. A team approach, where the connection of the boy to his learning is celebrated, allows ego to be taken out of the equation.</p><p>It allows for the support of teachers in difficult work</p><p>Cultivating and sustaining relationships for learning is by definition emotional, vulnerable and draining work. It will always bring a teacher to their limits and the broken relationship can be difficult to revisit and rethink in isolation. Having the ability to view this work through the lens of a team allows for advice, support, encouragement and a variety of connections to each child. That means we have a better chance of sustaining our faculty and our boys.</p></li><li><p>It allows the fullness of a boy to be supported relationally</p><p>A team approach allows us the best chance to acknowledge the fullness of needs a boy has. Limiting each relationship to the classroom teacher takes away the possibility of the nuanced insights, needs and varied connections that can be accessed through a team of teachers seeking to connect with a student. Our teachers have a collaborative approach and can seek out a colleague who they know connects with a student better than they do.</p><p>2. An "Up and Down" Approach to Relationship</p><p>In Reicherts project, 1,600 boys were asked what responsibility they had towards a relationship that was broken. No boys reported feeling any responsibility to repairing the relationship or of applying tactics that would allow them success within that relationship.</p><p>Reichert uses this finding to suggest it is always the teachers responsibility to return to the relationship, seeking different approaches to repair or create a relationship. The rationale being that we cant afford to wait, as boys will not take any ownership.</p><p>It must be noted that our own observations at Crescent do not conclude that all boys are quite so emphatic about a broken relationship as Reichert would indicate, with many boys finding tactics to work around the lack of connection. Nevertheless, his observation indicates an important aspect of an adolescent mindset.</p><p>We recognize that as educators we must always continue to seek the development of even the most challenging of relationships. This is very important and the team approach explained above gives us the best chance to do t...</p></li></ul>