We planted a verbinum tree in our garden a few years ago. If you have one or know someone who does, you have experienced the wonderful scent that emanates from the blooms when they emerge each spring. The blooms are round balls of tiny white and pink flowers. As you step toward the tree, you pick up the scent from yards away and you know you have come near to something special.
After several years, our tree began to lean a bit in the direction of the sun's path. We knew we needed to do something to correct the tilting tree. So last fall we tied some twine around the tree trunk and secured it to three stakes in the ground a few feet away in an attempt to straighten it. We tied the twine firmly to give the tree a nudge in the right direction. We hoped that as we moved into spring, the tree would take a more upright stance.
The tree is a wonder of nature. It's been reaching toward the sun that it needs to grow and survive. But, a bit too eager, it has angled it's trunk. If left alone, the tree may eventually topple over.
Like teaching we don't need to change the way our students lean toward learning. We should celebrate that, but sometimes we need to step in. Give them support and help them continue to grow. So we connect with learners in ways that support and encourage them to grow and become the amazing creatures they are. We clarify their direction so their learning journeys are full of what they need to learn.
We have to know our learners. Know what they need. Know where they need to go. Provide just enough support to keep them going. To encourage further growth.
So our relationships with learners are important and the things we do in the classroom are the twine and the stakes that encourage, support and love.