I’m sure I’ve written about relationships when considering education. The whole “they won’t care what you know until they know you care” thing is well documented among the social media universe and for good reason. If we cannot communicate with our students that we care about them, they will do diddly squat for us, period.

I find it interesting because as March Madness has been the rage, it’s been the “it’s about the relationships” mantra of many coaches online.

In a tweet from Colin Morgan (@coachmorgan19) he says:

Watching coaches of losing teams in the NCAA tournament talk about their seniors… tells you all you need to know about coaching

Another blog post that been refound is on by Kyle Ohman, where he talks about the “One Per Day Rule.” In it, coaches try to meet with each player on their team, one player per day, about twenty minutes. Rotating this around, you are meeting with each player 10 to 12 times over the course of a season.  Now, admittedly, this is aimed more at college coaches, but that idea of building a relationship is front and center with creating the habit of meeting with players.

I am a basketball fan, and my favorite professional team has to be the San Antonio Spurs. They’ve been leading the way in the NBA with ridiculous numbers: 17 years in a row of winning at least 50 games,  winning 70% of their games in that span. Tim Duncan is one of the main reasons for such success, but they have many pieces that create this amazing organization. One of them is relationships.

Duncan’s second year in the league, he hurt his knee right at the end of the season, and while he could have easily sucked it up, playing, endangering his career, his coach, Greg Popavich, would not play him.  The Spurs, the defending champions from the year before, did not have a chance to truly defend their title, but the relationship forged in that decision helped these two create a special bond.  Their most recent (and biggest) signing on the free agent market, LaMarcus Aldridge, came from a team where he was expected to be the top dog. In San Antonio, he’s another piece to the puzzle, and much has been written about him and the Spurs, because a signing like this was very unusual for this organization.  However, he’s blending in, and it’s because of the culture of the organization, one that values relationships.   This is a great story about Popavich and the character of his team,  one where teammates eat out together constantly, win or lose, and where former teammates are welcomed back with open arms.

But this quote from a story about Aldridge starting to fit into the Spurs team is what got me writing:

Then one day it’ll click that even that doesn’t matter, that the relationships are far more important to him than the scoreboard.

The relationships that we build, whether they are for a school year, a season, or a lifetime are so important.  We cannot expect our students to perform well, to create awesome things, and to be the people we hope unless we are willing to open ourselves up.  We have to create those bonds with students, giving them hope that people do care. If we cannot find the time or create it for them, when times get hard, you won’t have a foundation to stand on, and it gets really slippery really quick.

I love this job and love this profession, but am constantly amazed at how veteran teachers cannot see beyond the book to the person that’s in their classroom. Nope, I’m no expert, far from it. However, I know that those relationships are a “tight” norm (in PLC language) and they aren’t negotiable. Sometimes I struggle to create them, but in the end, it’s well worth it.

And who knows, I may teaching the next Tim Duncan, and I’ll have an autographed paper! 🙂