Relationships (noun) – the way in which two or more people or things are connected or interconnected (Oxford Dictionary)
Responsive (adjective) – giving response; quick to respond or react appropriately or sympathetically (Merriam-Webster); making a positive and quick reaction to someone or something (Oxford Dictionary)
Relationships are central to learning experiences. Foundational to good teaching and learning is the purposeful building and maintaining of relationships – relationships with one another, with information and concepts, materials, and technology. Within the context of schools, I envision a graphic of overlapping spirals in which the interactions between people and “things” creates and sustains the forces that feed learning and growth.
Responsive teaching is underpinned with positive, strong, supportive and understanding relationships. Responsive instructional decisions not only demand that the teacher develops a deep understanding of the curricular material. It also requires understanding and knowing each student – their interests, and how they interact with others, information, and the wider world. It is through knowing the person, the learner, the group relationships and dynamics, that a teacher can be effectual in their response to individual needs and empower their students. An empowered learner has a voice, makes choices, takes risks, fails forward and can then be an empowering energy for others.
We do not work in isolation as teachers. We do not work in isolation as learners. To be a mighty learner and citizen of the world is to be empowered, supported and cared for by those around us. We endeavour every day to be responsive so that we are facilitating and inspiring independence in learning and nurturing wonder. Through play and exploration, experimentation and iteration, timely feedback and transparent expectations, students are encouraged to build and maintain a relationship with people, information and ideas in which they can ask their own questions to construct personal pathways of knowledge.