Creating the Structures to Build Relationships

Photo by Allison Shelley for EDUimages

It’s no secret that relationships are important. Attuned, responsive, positive developmental relationships can help position students to take on new challenges and should become the foundation for all we do in schools all the time, but especially now during a time of crisis.

Intentionally structuring time and space to foster relationships, such as class meetings, peer mentoring, and small learning environments, can ensure that relationships among students and with adults can flourish.

Research and practice tell us that it is not just the presence of relational structures that make the difference in the lives of students — it is also the quality of ongoing interactions and experiences that personalize the learning environment and create more productive and engaging contexts for learning.

As we head into a new calendar year and the second half of the school year, it’s a good time for educators to take stock of the relational structures present in a classroom or school and reflect on how they’re working.

How are current structures optimizing student learning and thriving?

Our Student Relationship Structures Inventory walks educators through a three-step process to record and reflect on student relationship structures in their classroom, school, and district.

For example, while a teacher might run a daily class meeting, what are the experiences of students in that classroom and how do they view that meeting as helping them connect to fellow students?

Educators start by identifying the relational structures present in their school contexts, move on to interviewing a student and staff member to see what’s working, and finally, synthesizing what they’ve learned and planning for the next step.

Using this tool can help educators strengthen both structures that are working and structures that need some refinement. Reflecting and planning on these learnings can ensure the creation of high-quality time and space for relationships is central to discussions and decisions.




Turnaround connects the dots between science, adversity and school performance to catalyze student development and academic achievement.

Love podcasts or audiobooks? Learn on the go with our new app.

Recommended from Medium

Staff Highlight: Sonali Doshi, Deputy Director of Communications

1 Year Out

A Seat at the Coursetable

AKA 1908 Membership Cost

AKA 1908 Membership Cost

What’s the future of education in Malaysia? Part 2.

How The Indian Education System Has Made Us An Empty Suit

How Banuba Augmented Reality Immerses Students Into E-learning

Tips for a University of Toronto Life Science Student

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Turnaround for Children

Turnaround for Children

Turnaround connects the dots between science, adversity and school performance to catalyze student development and academic achievement.

More from Medium

The Most Important Skills to Nurture

7 tips to protect your mental health while on the job hunt.

Top Five Reasons to Not Become a Doctor

Choosing A College Or University: Factors To Consider | Bright Classroom Ideas