Tuesday, February 1, 2011

You listened, which is a lot

Written by Ms. Berman

"You listened, which is a lot."  These were the words spoken by one of my students today.  They struck a chord with me as I have been reflecting upon the concept of Connection Bids, a term coined by Dr. Stephanie Rico when she wrote her PhD dissertation.  I was one of two teachers she studied by videotaping and transcribing everything that we did in the classroom for an entire semester.  Concurrently she was secretly meeting with my students from the onset of the semester and throughout, trying to define how the teacher-student connection develops.  She explained the process as follows: students put forth Connection Bids on a daily basis.  They come in many forms, both verbal and non-verbal and in positive and negative manners.  None-the-less they are all gestures in which the student is reaching out to the teacher, asking for assistance of one kind or another.  It is up to the teacher to first pick up on these bids and then determine how to respond.   For some students it is easier to reach out and directly ask, "Can I speak with you about something?" whereas others may begin with a more innocuous phrase such as "Do you have any Wite Out?"  It is usually a look or a pause after the latter comment that lets me know the question is just a ruse to start up a conversation.  What is it that these students are looking for?  While hundreds of thousands of dollars are being poured into studies on education, trying to determine what factors make for a positive classroom environment and successful school districts at large, any teenager can tell you that he/she is merely asking for mutual respect.  To be listened to.  To be considered of value.  To be thought of as more than a student ID number.  The pending threat of larger class sizes chills me to the core of my soul.  With current classes of 38, I know that I am missing Connection Bids multiple times a day.  I know that students are overwhelmed with life and thus making poor choices, which could possibly be dealt with proactively if I directed them to the proper resources.   I ask that anyone who took the time to read this post to take a few moments to write to Mr. Barrera (rbarrera1@sandi.net) and Mr. Kowba (wkowba@sandi.net) and remind them of the importance of maintaining the integrity of our programs at I.S.  We simply cannot tolerate increased class sizes.  We must find the means to make education the number one priority.  We should ensure that all children have the opportunity to connect with at least one core teacher and be able to say "You listened, which is a lot."   


  1. In highschool, there are times when you feel invisible or like you don't belong.. the best thing someone can do for you when you feel that way, is just listen to you and hear what you have to say. Many times the solution to our problems, is just that we need communication and someone to listen and understand.
    If class sizes increase more, students will just feel like a number and will not be able to interact with our teachers on any sort of personal level. To me, what makes a teacher special is how they treat their students and how much they care. When I am able to say "You listened, which is a lot" to a teacher, I know that I will have a stronger urge to prove how great I can be in their class and prove how much I care. That teacher, will not only show me how great I am, but also that I am worth being listened to.

  2. Dear Ms. Berman--
    Your comments in this blog affected me from two different perspectives: parent and educator. As an educator of students with visual and multiple impairments for the last 40 years, I can't agree with you more about the personal touch, the "just being there at the right time." For some of my students with the most severe impairments (blind, deaf, physical and mental disabilities), it's truly the physical touch, the "I see you and you count as a fellow human being"; they teach me so much about the human spirit. Other students, to whom I provide books and materials in a format that helps them access their education, speak to me directly. Their challenges are no less daunting; just being able to help them read a book or better see the whiteboard or computer screen is a reward in itself. One of my students is a young lady, deaf from birth, blind now for the last several years; she is now reading Braille and communicates through manual sign language. She requires vast amounts of resources to access the educational environment; but working with her on a daily basis, and knowing that she is progressing and learning at a level commensurate with her peers, gives me such satisfaction and justification for the time I and others spend with her. Do we not continue to educate such children because of the cost (or ANY child)?
    As a parent for the last 15 and a half years, I send my daughter to you and her other teachers at IS for a large part of her day. Just knowing that you are there to perhaps meet a need that she may not share with me gives me peace of mind. You, personally, in my semester's worth of experience as my daughter's teacher, look beyond just the academic and subject matter of your job. You see the whole student and know that there is more to their experience in your class (and their lives) than vast amounts of homework. Thanks for balance!

    I, too, don't want to see our district, staff and students reduced to budgetary #'s and unmanageable class sizes. When we lose that ability to offer the personal touch and to take advantage of the truly "teachable moment", is the day that I will leave the profession. I hope and pray that it won't happen during my child's time at SDHS and not for the generations of students yet to come.


    Peggy Campbell

  3. It takes a lot of courage for a student to tell a teacher personal thing, & shows that respect & trust they can grow for that teacher. Coming from me a person who love to vent and express my life whether its the good stories or bad ones. When someone is willing to listen to your problems it means a lot it means some one cares for you. Sometimes people aren't fortunate enough to have a parent and or someone to look to for help or just someone to vent to. When you find that person or people it feels good like a connection and a mutual understanding for each other. It's not only nice to have someone to vent to but it's even nicer to know that you can be help to someone and someone counts on you.