Following faculty orientation, student arrival and student orientation, and the start of classes, we are really starting to get rolling now!
It has been a whirlwind of preparation, activity and relationship building. The key component, the driving force behind Oliverian, is relationship building. What does that mean? How do you do that? Why is it so important?
First and foremost, having a relationship with a trusted adult is a number one protective factor against MANY areas of risk for students of all ages. How do you expect to have an impact on their decision-making, help them form good habits, introduce them to new ideas and perspectives, have them share when they need help, etc., without the basis of a positive relationship?
We work hard to place relationship-building at the center of every interaction with our students and with each other. Do we get this right every time? Absolutely not, but we strive to get better and better every day.
Try it out. The next time you approach ANYONE in your life, start from the mindset and goal of building or strengthening your relationship. Below are some tips from the Search Institute. These can apply to relationships with youth and any person in your life.
• Pay attention. Focus on the person when they are talking about things that matter to them. Put away your cell phone.
• Ask follow-up questions so you both know you’re interested.
• Strive to understand and show sensitivity to others’ feelings.
• Provide specific and descriptive feedback. (do not to use ‘always’ or ‘never’).
• Follow up when you know they are going through something, rather than waiting for them to bring it up.
• Share in some humor, fun, and laughter amid the practical tasks.
• Work to understand people’s points of view when they share ideas or opinions.
• Do what you say you will do and keep your promises.
• Help others find their own solutions, rather than just telling them what to do.
• Help others think through options and resources when they encounter obstacles.
Here in little Pike, NH, we are doing our best to keep this focus and make a difference in the lives of a group of students that are worth the effort, every single day.