Increase The Collisions

If you are reading this article, it’s probably because you are the working in a school or have an interest in education so I don’t need to waste your time telling you how busy the school environment can be. If you’re in education, you get it. It’s crazy and fast paced.

What I am on about is a warning or a reminder to not let the day pass us by and miss the hundreds of opportunities for high-quality, informal interactions with our students.

I’ve seen it before and if you think back to your day today, you probably walked a similar path. The bell sounds, you load your arms with every book, resource, a spare piece of paper, pen and whiteboard marker you can carry and like a flash of lightning speed off to class. 

It’s at this point that I say slow down, and maybe even stop. Walk a different path from the staff room. Stop and have a chat with the student who you know is going to give you a few challenges in the next class, the student who you may not have connected with over the last couple of weeks or the student who has been away because whatever it is that’s going on in their life, has made it too difficult for them to even attend school. But they’re here today so make the most of it. 

I’m encouraging you to increase the number of collisions that we have with our students. I like to think of a collision as an interaction that they weren’t ready for or they weren’t expecting. Maybe it’s something about their personal life, maybe it’s something about their weekend or maybe it’s something about you. Whatever it is, it’s these collisions and informal interactions that help us build the relationship.

You think about it, it would be reasonable to say that on any given day you could have up to 200 informal interactions with students. In the yard, on the way to class, in the classroom, before school or after school. Now, think about the numbers and let’s say you have a staff of 50 at your school, it would look something like this each week….

200 interactions per day x 5 days a week x 50 staff members = 50,000 informal interactions per week.

The numbers are huge.

It doesn’t have to be hard work, it doesn’t have to be confrontational and it actually doesn’t have to have any real purpose. As long as you make that effort to build a relationship, and make a deposit in the relationship bank, it will pay you back at a later stage when you really need it. 

The best relationships are built over time with lots of little deposits, not a ‘one off’ meeting, or chat, or even one excursion. Is the endless amount of little interactions when we get to learn about each other that helps us strengthen our relationships.