In my first five years of teaching I’ve heard the echoes of familiar advice commonly shared by Messiah’s professors; “It’s all about relationships.” The relationships you cultivate with students, their families, and your colleagues unlock the greatest potential for a student’s academic success and envelops students in a supportive and cohesive educational community. Following methods to become a “Warm Demander” has greatly helped me find the complicated balance of communicating high expectations and building resiliency through productive struggle, while also expressing compassion and developing trust with students as they navigate challenging academic, social, and emotional growth. In the words of author Lisa Delpit, Warm Demanders “expect a great deal of their students, convince them of their own brilliance, and help them to reach their potential in a disciplined and structured environment.” Learning to adapt this teaching strategy despite grade level, school, and even state changes has helped me secure solid and reliable relationships with my students, encourage genuine partnerships with their families, and build a collaborative team atmosphere as both a team leader and a team member.
Perhaps most importantly, remember to act as your own Warm Demander as you continue your vocational development as an educator. Through the many moments of celebrations and challenges, accomplishments and defeats, always extend grace and encouragement to yourself just as you would your students and know that with each experience you encounter, your own expertise, resilience, and instinct will serve you and your students well.