One Word: Relationships

By Amy Linkel, IPLI Mentor and Principal at South Ripley Elementary School

As many schools and organizations do, all employees at our school corporation are challenged to choose “one word” and focus on it all year long.  My chosen word is “relationships.”  As a principal, I truly believe in the power of relationships.  It is so important to take time to really listen to our teachers, students, family members, and community.  Our teachers especially need to be supported.  Our teachers are in the trenches day in and day out.  The more they are supported, the more they will give.  The more they give, the more benefit for our students, families, and community.  All of these things though are based on relationships.  The power of relationships should never be underestimated!

Teachers know that students who feel safe and supported at school perform better academically.  But, just as students feel this way, so do teachers.  As principals, we must prioritize building relationships, and especially with teachers. Just like students, when they like you, know that you care, are there to help, and you believe in them, they want to do the work, please you, and work for you. As principals, we must be honest and transparent.  As difficult as it sometimes is to be vulnerable and show that you are struggling too, you certainly should.  Let your teachers see the real side of you and let your teachers know that you are learning right along with them.  That’s all part of building a relationship.

Model! Model! Model!  Modeling helps build relationships as well.  By modeling expectations, the message will be seen and heard that you do not expect your teachers to do things you wouldn’t do. Modeling is a positive experience for all, and it simply opens the opportunity for more learning and building relationships.  We are a C.L.A.S.S. (Connecting Learning Assures Student Success) school, and I make a commitment every single day to model our life goals of “Do the Right Thing. Treat People Right.”  I not only say this, but I model it by listening to others, assuming the good, greeting people, and stopping what I am doing to recognize excellence and telling that person.

In the “busyness” of the day, these things can easily go by the wayside. But, I am telling you that the power of relationships will persevere when so many other things will not. The power of relationships will help empower teachers, students, families, community members, and many more.  Besides, it will help you feel better too, knowing you are genuinely taking the time to get to know others better.  I think you will find that you really like it.  Soon, you won’t be able to imagine a day without establishing that connection, building continued rapport, and trusting and caring for others.  It works!  Maybe you will even choose relationships as your “one word” to focus on sometimes.