- Encouraging teachers to build a connection with students beyond just name recognition can have a significant impact on student achievement, Edutopia reports.
- At Cold Springs Middle School in Nevada, for example, teachers are encouraged by administrators to go through rosters with colored markers and place check marks in categories like "Name/Face," "Something Personal," "Personal/Family Story" and "Academic Standing" to document how well each child is known by an adult in the building.
- The exercise is part of the Washoe County School District's "Every Child, by Name and Face, to Graduation" effort, a social-emotional learning program launched in 2012 that seeks to raise the district's graduation rate to 90% by 2020.
Feeling seen can have a significant impact on a student's morale, especially in rural or low-income schools or districts where it can be easier for students to fall through the cracks. As Psychology Today notes, role models are particularly important when it comes to modeling behavior, as children are most likely to adopt actions they see getting rewarded in the real world. Good role models can serve as mentors, helping children realize that they can achieve their goals and how to set out on the path to doing so.
For students of color, this is perhaps even more important, as many schools lack educators of color who these students can relate to. A recent study from Johns Hopkins University found the presence of black teachers, especially during grades 3-5, led to lower dropout rates for black students later on and higher odds they would attend college.
The important thing for administrators to remember when trying to facilitate these connections is that the student doesn't necessarily have to be in the class of the educator whose experience most resembles their own — those connections can be made through clubs, the creation of "student advisor" roles, and more.