Rapport is everything.
In this literacy program it was initiated during the one on one testing. It began with a hello and a show of interest in the student; a request for the student's participation in the test, not a command. As the administrator of the test I showed the student the scoring guide, the word lists and the readings. The student was aware of their role and mine. It was necessary to tell each student that the information written during their participation was to be used in order to to design instruction specific to him or her. The score is neither good nor bad. It only highlights what skills and strategies will become the focus of the program. Any answer given was met with approval. A wrong answer is actually viewed as excellent data. It highlights exactly what deficit or need that student will focus on in order to progress. The student knows if they are selected for this program, it is not for remedial needs but for students with initiative who will receive targeted skill development at any level. Knowing that the student body selected for the program will be heterogeneously grouped is important to students who will communicate this back to their peers.
These students are ages seven to ten and they are full of wonder and worry. Giving a student the power to be able to skip a question, to view how and why I record data gives them the power to decide to cooperate. Bilingual students showed signs of shock and relief when I stumbled over pronunciations and explained that I would let them teach me Spanish in exchange for their cooperation with English literacy. The relationship with be reciprocal. What I discovered today, was that rapport is based on friendly relations but more importantly it is based on purposeful, useful communication. It is about building a relationship that gives everyone a role. I discovered in conversation with D- my administrator that many students don't really understand the purpose of reading. Reading isn't modeled enough outside of the school setting. This is why the relationship with an adult reading mentor will be crucial to student success. Students may not understand why they should read but they do appreciate an action that leads to a direct outcome and this is what I must model in the short time I have out here.
I have always known that rapport is important but I perceived it to mean shaping a persona of firm resolve and amicable understanding. I have never had control of how students perceive me and this has been cause for conflict with some students while great friendships with others. The conflicts have always haunted me until now. I now believe that I could build a positive rapport with all students if I focus on the following:
- knowing that students have a role to play in their education, this role allows them flexibility to reject or skip some learning opportunities and to try some ideas that are new. (Marzano, 2001)
- Provide consistency with routines, assessments, conferences and opportunities for discovery.
- That direct outcomes are appreciated. When there are gains in skills and strategies, there should be a gain in content. This need to be clearly presented.
- If students have opportunity to activate opinion and past experience they surpass the focus on whether a question is right or wrong. They should return to a question for a final answer. Anticipation guides are springboards for individual and collaborative growth. (Lenski, 2011)
- Questions that encourage discussion:
- What do you remember learning on this topic from Middle School? How should we proceed? Did you read this summer? Do you like to read? Does this story remind you of...? I remember that this was hard for you last year, but how did you tackle this this year? If we could add one more element to this experiment, what would it be? If I take on this.. will you take on this responsibility? When you learned this in Middle School you could name 5 items, can you still do this? Is this true or false- how can we be sure? (see more strategies)
- Positive connections must be made to what was taught at home, in elementary and middle schools. Knowing exactly what knowledge was achieved should be recalled and received with praise. It is a building block that is often ignored. (McCoss-Yeargian& Krepps, 2010).
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