Building a Relationship with Students to Increase Learning in the Classroom


5 Tips for Better Relationships With Your Students – NEA

Featured article: Unconditional Positive Regard and Effective School Discipline By Dr. Eric Rossen

The Teacher as Warm Demander by Elizabeth Bondy and Dorene D. Ross

Educator’s Guide to Preventing and Solving Discipline Problems by Mark Boynton and Christine Boynton

The Power of Positive Regard by Jeffrey Benson

Building Positive Teacher-Child Relationships– CSEFEL


Unconditional Positive Regard 

Carl Rogers described unconditional positive regard (UPR) as love and acceptance that are not dependent upon any particular behaviors. He often used the term “prizing” as shorthand for this feature of a relationship. According to Rogers, prizing is particularly important in the parent-child relationship.

Unconditional Positive Regard 

Carl Rogers described unconditional positive regard (UPR) as love and acceptance that are not dependent upon any particular behaviors. He often used the term “prizing” as shorthand for this feature of a relationship. According to Rogers, prizing is particularly important in the parent-child relationship. Rogers argued that children who are prized by their parents experience a greater sense of congruence, have a better chance to self-actualize, and have are more likely to become fully functioning people than those whose parents raise them under “conditions of worth.”

Unconditional positive regard is also a crucial component of Rogers’ approach to psychotherapy. In fact, along with empathy and genuineness, Rogers asserted that UPR was one of the necessary and sufficient elements for positive psychotherapeutic change. When Rogers described UPR as “necessary,” he communicated that an unconditionally accepting and warm relationship between therapist and client is a prerequisite for therapy to be effective. This assertion is not particularly shocking; most individuals seeing a therapist would probably expect the therapist to have this type of nonjudgmental attitude, and would also probably expect therapy to progress poorly if the therapist was in fact judgmental or conditionally disapproving. When Rogers described UPR as “sufficient,” however, he made a bolder statement. The term “sufficient” suggests that if a therapist provides UPR, along with empathy and genuineness, to a client, the client will improve. No additional techniques or strategies are needed. The therapist need not analyze any dreams, change any thought patterns, punish or reward any behaviors, or offer any interpretations. Instead, in the context of this humanistic therapy relationship, the client will heal himself or herself by growing in a self-actualizing direction, thereby achieving greater congruence. This “necessary and sufficient” claim holds true, according to Rogers, regardless of the diagnosis or severity of the client’s problem.

In addition to the parent-child and therapist-client relationship, Rogers also considered the value of UPR in other relationships and situations. For example, he spent significant time and energy discussing the role that UPR might play in education, and in the teacher-student relationship in particular. Rogers criticized the mainstream American educational system as overly conditional. He believed that educators too often used the threat of poor grades to motivate students, and that students felt prized only when they performed up to educators’ standards (as measured by grades on exams, papers, etc.). He further believed that students may emerge from school having learned some essential academic skills, but also having learned that they are not trustworthy, that they lack internal motivation toward learning, and that only the aspects of themselves that meet particular academic criteria are worthy.

Rogers strongly recommended that teachers and administrators take a more humanistic and less conditional approach to education. He argued that UPR in schools would communicate to children that they are worthy no matter what; as a result, their sense of congruence and their tendency toward self-actualization would remain intact. Students, according to Rogers, should be trusted to a greater extent to follow their own interests and set to their own academic goals. Rather than threatening students to study for exams and write papers in which they have little interest, prize them wholly and allow them greater freedom to choose that which they want to pursue. Advocates of Rogers’ humanistic approach to education argue that it would enhance students’ self-worth, which in turn may preclude many of the psychological and social problems that children encounter. Critics of Rogers’ humanistic approach to education argue that without conditions of worth based on academic achievement, students would have no provocation to learn, and would demonstrate lethargy rather than self-motivation.

Andrew M. Pomerantz, Ph. D.



Stress and the Holidays – How to Support Yourself and Your Kids.

Family reading together on sofa at Christmas time, viewed through window

APA suggests these tips to help parents effectively manage holiday stress

  • Strengthen social connections – We know that strong, supportive relationships help us manage all kinds of challenges. So, we can view the holidays as a time to reconnect with the positive people in our lives. Accepting help and support from those who care about us can help alleviate stress. Also, volunteering at a local charity on our own or with family can be another way to make connections; helping others often makes us feel better, too.
  • Initiate conversations about the season – It can be helpful to have conversations with our kids about the variety of different holiday traditions our families, friends and others may celebrate. Parents can use this time as an opportunity to discuss how some families may not participate in the same holiday traditions as others. Not everyone needs to be the same. It is important to teach open-mindedness about others and their celebrations.
  • Set expectations – It is helpful to set realistic expectations for gifts and holiday activities. Depending on a child’s age, we can use this opportunity to teach kids about the value of money and responsible spending. We need to remember to pare down our own expectations, too. Instead of trying to take on everything, we need to identify the most important holiday tasks and take small concrete steps to accomplish them.
  • Keep things in perspective – On the whole, the holiday season is short. It helps to maintain a broader context and a longer-term perspective. We can ask ourselves, what’s the worst thing that could happen this holiday? Our greatest fears may not happen and, if they do, we can tap our strengths and the help of others to manage them. There will be time after the holiday season to follow up or do more of things we’ve overlooked or did not have the time to do during the holidays.
  • Take care of yourself – It is important that we pay attention to our own needs and feelings during the holiday season. We can find fun, enjoyable and relaxing activities for ourselves and our families. By keeping our minds and bodies healthy, we are primed to deal with stressful situations when they arise. Consider cutting back television viewing for kids and getting the family out together for fresh air and a winter walk. Physical activity can help us feel better and sleep well, while reducing sedentary time and possible exposure to stress-inducing advertisements. Source



How to De-Stress Young Children During the Holidays



Research on Holiday Stress -APA

Handling Holidays After Divorce


Classroom meetings

high school students with hands up in classroom

Classroom meetings are an effective way to help build classroom community, establish behavioral expectations and norms, as well as explore social issues that need tending to help continue supporting a thriving learning environment.

Class Meeting Guides


Class Meetings Creating a Safe School Starting in Your Classroom– Ophelia Project

The Classroom Meeting-PowerPoint


The Power of the Morning Meeting: 5 Steps Toward Changing Your Classroom and School Culture

Promoting Learning by Dr. Marvin Marshall – Classroom Meetings

Class Meetings-Positive Discipline

Practical Activities

Idea Title Grade Description
Weekly Agenda


An agenda where everyone has a say!
Class Meetings with a Stopwatch


An easy tip for “keeping things moving” in class meetings.
Speak Up with a Microphone


A quick idea to encourage only one speaker at a time!
Character Trait Spotlight


Focusing on positive character traits at class meetings.
“Some Things Are Scary”


This picture book is an excellent springboard for discussion in a class meeting!
Class Meeting Sign


An easy sign so that everyone knows when the class meeting is!
A Time to Spotlight Students


Spotlighting students at class meetings


Visuals to Support Learning





Disability Awareness Activities


Building awareness with all kids to help them better understand the world around them is a should be a priority for schools. It is quite normal for kids to be curious about other children who may use special materials / equipment or behave/ learn differently. It is our role as parents, teachers, and citizens to support the kids in their understanding of these differences. Social Emotional Learning under the guidelines of CASEL should be a pillar in your school plan.


Special Education: Promoting More Inclusion at Your School

Disability Awareness- Resources

CASEL guide


Disability Awareness Activity Packet-Activities and Resources for Teaching Students About Disabilities

Understanding Disabilities

Disabilities Awareness Teacher Toolkit

DISABILITY 101: Increasing Disability Awareness and Sensitivity

Teacher’s Reference Book – Special Stories for Disability Awareness: Stories and Activities for Teachers

by Mal Leicester, Jane Dover (Contributions by)

Parenting resources

Disability Awareness: 10 Things Parents Should Teach Their Kids About Disabilities

Teaching Your Child About Peers With Special Needs

walk a mile in their shoes (Bullying Awareness)




Elementary Books

“Andy and His Yellow Frisbee”  by  Mary Thompson   Pre-k -3rd
“Be Good to Eddie Lee ” by Virginia Filling   Pre-k -3rd
“Arnie & the New Kid ” by Nancy Carlson   Pre-k -3rd
“Danny and the Merry-go-Round” by Nan Holcomb   Pre-k -3rd
“Let’s Talk about It” by Jennifer Moore-Mallinos   Pre-K – 3rd
“Leo the Late Bloomer” by Robert Kraus   Pre-k -3rd
“Fair and Square” by Nan Holcomb   1st – 2nd
“I’m like You, You’re like Me” by Cindy Gainer   1st – 2nd
“We can do it!  by Laura Dwight   1st – 2nd
“Rolling Along: The story of Taylor and his Wheelchair”  by Jamee Heelan   1st – 5th
“Adam and the Magic Marble”  by Adam and Carol Buehrens   2nd – 6th

Middle and High School Disability Awareness Book Review

are you alone on purpose?” By Nancy Werlin. Allison and Adam are twins but Adam has Autism and Allison is gifted. Their parents start going to synagogue and there they meet Harry, the Rabbi’s son, who is a bully and very mean to Adam. When Harry is injured and ends up in a wheelchair he becomes more vulnerable and Allison and Harry become friends. This is a moving story about learning about disabilities but toward the end there are a few cuss words. The story itself is marvelous, but due to some harsh language it is more for high school students.

Don’t Stop The Music by Robert Perske. This novel is exciting and a fun adventure that teaches about physical disabilities and perceptions of able-bodied individuals toward people with disabilities. It has a crime mystery imbedded in a disability awareness book. This book would be wonderful for middle school students as well as young high school students.

head above water”  by S.L. Rottman. This novel is about a 16-year-old girl with an 18-year-old brother with Down Syndrome. Their mother works two jobs to make ends meet and therefore Skye takes on most of the caretaking activities with Sunny. This story highlights how it is having a sibling with a disability. Skye has her first boyfriend and having a brother who she needs to take care of gets in the way of her teenage life. There is some serious storyline as her new boyfriend pressures her to have sex and almost rapes her. It is wonderful how Skye defends herself and sticks up for what she believes in, however, this book would be appropriate for high school only due to the mature storyline.

Petey” by Ben Mikaelsen. This novel examines the notion that people with physical disabilities are often assumed to have cognitive disabilities when they often do not. This story starts in the early part of the 1900s and follows Petey Corbin though living in an institution and then a nursing home. It is a delightful journey that clearly shows how non-disabled people often are frightened of people with disabilities until they get to know them. It is a particularly good book for boys and is appropriate for both middle and high school students.

Rules” by Cynthia Lord. This is a Newbery Honor Book and Schneider Family Book Award winner. The story follows a brother with autism and a sister who shares a lot of responsibility for teaching her bother the rules of getting along in a world that does not always have compassion and understanding for someone with autism. Catherine creates rules to help David understand how to live in the world. Catherine also learns a few lessons about other disabilities. This is an excellent book for middle and high school alike.

Views from our Shoes” Edited by Donald Meyer. This is a compilation of forty-five (45) short narratives of siblings of children with disabilities and how they view living with their siblings.
It is a nice view from children as young as four to as old as eighteen. This book is appropriate for middle and high school students.

Wish on a Unicorn” by Karen Hesse. This novel uses imagination and wishes to explore the dreams of children living in poverty with a sibling with a disability. The relationship between the children and how protective they are of their sister with a cognitive disability is heart warming. It would be an easy novel to do writing activities with. What would you wish for if you found a unicorn? How would you handle a bully? This story lends itself to middle and high school students.

The Summer of the Swans” by Betsy Byars. Newberry Award Winner. This novel tells the story of a family that includes a boy with a cognitive disability. This is a short book that easily shows the family dynamics and how it is to be a sibling of a child with a disability. This is a good book for middle school level.


Just around the corner is National School Psychologist Awareness Week 2015!

National School Psychologist Awareness Week 2015 will be celebrated from November 9-13, 2015, to focus public attention on the important role of school psychologists in promoting school and life success for students.  School psychologists work with students and teachers every day to promote wellness and resilience, reinforce communication and social skills, and increase achievement academically, socially, behaviorally, and emotionally.

Political commentary video on recent comments made by Jeb Bush.

Click to access 2015-SPAW-Poster.pdf

Being Positive

I opened my email today and saw an article that said, “Bite your lip today”. As I read further it went on to say don’t say anything negative today. I like to think that I am positive (most days), but I like the idea of hanging on to noticing the content of what I say and do. So for today I will definitely be taking inventory of my positive out put.

Modeling this behavior is important for kids to see especially at school. I know at home with my own kids when visiting the beach or park we try to pick up some trash while we are there to keep it a little cleaner than we found it. I think the same concept should be played out with the people we interact with as much as possible.

A popular book in school is “How to fill your bucket”. Many schools have adopted this metaphor for being a good citizen. Below is a kid friendly reading of the book.

After reading the book here are some classroom ready materials to use.

Bucket Filler Resources

Great Scholastic Article

Free Teachers Pay Teachers link

The Ned Show Lesson Plan

Adult version of the bucket filling concept. I just put it on my reading list.