"Improving Relationships Within the Schoolhouse" by Roland S. Barth
from the article:
"One incontrovertible finding emerges from my career spent working in and around schools: The nature of relationships among the adults within a school has a greater influence on the character and quality of that school and on student accomplishment than anything else. If the relationships between administrators and teachers are trusting, generous, helpful, and cooperative, then the relationships between teachers and students, between students and students, and between teachers and parents are likely to be trusting, generous, helpful, and cooperative. If, on the other hand, relationships between administrators and teachers are fearful, competitive, suspicious, and corrosive, then these qualities will disseminate throughout the school community."
"Consequently, the issues surrounding adult relationships in school, like other nondiscussables, litter the schoolhouse floor, lurking like land mines, with trip wires emanating from each. We cannot take a step without fear of losing a limb. Thus paralyzed, we can be certain that next September, adult relationships in the school will remain unchanged. School improvement is impossible when we give nondiscussables such extraordinary power over us..."
Barth goes on to discuss various types of relationships that are found in educational settings, relationships that end up characterizing the community itself. Here are his categories:
This article is becoming a classic for leaders who want to change school cultures. It's a great beginning point for conversations between colleagues who work together. I'm posting it here for discussion about the essence
of the article, that relationships count, that they matter perhaps more than anything else.
Discussion points for Future of Education could be several: what do you think about what Barth is saying... In your experience, is it true? Have you seen educational settings transform once people become attuned to the importance of faculty interactions?
Other questions: have you found that online relationships can move in the direction of collegiality, and perhaps make up for some of what might be missing in the F2F environment, providing inspiration, support, and motivation?
Also, do you know of other articles, books, or leaders we should be thinking about, that emphasize the importance of the tone--the spirit--of human connections?