By Gabrielle Dunton
Building positive relationships is the most important part of education.
That was the message delivered to all TD3 staff at the annual Back-to-School kickoff event. Every Tempe Elementary teacher and staff member was present for the occasion, designed to inspire and energize everyone for the upcoming 2019-2020 school year.
Superintendent Christine Busch welcomed the group and shared the theme for the school year: Choose Kindness…Change the World! In light of the theme, Busch introduced George Couros, the keynote speaker at this year’s event.
Couros is a learner, educator and consultant for Innovative Teaching, Learning, and Leadership, as well as author of “The Innovator’s Mindset.”
His formula for learning: we need to inspire our kids to follow their passions while letting them inspire us to do the same.
Couros opened with sharing his thoughts on how every student, no matter where each comes from, should be given a pathway to success, particularly via opportunities that are meaningful to them.
He led the TD3 employees into a message on the type of mindset that could help educators help students reach their greatest potential.
Using a mix of humor and heartwarming stories, Couros discussed how important it is for educators these days to think with an “innovator’s mindset,” implying the ability to create empowering learning experiences, incorporate learning methods relevant to the learner—with an emphasis on embracing technology—and continuing to be a lifelong learner.
But what is at the core of the innovator’s mindset? The ability to build and maintain positive relationships with students.
“Err on the side of positive,” said Couros. “You never know when it’s going to impact someone’s life.”
In the context of education, an acknowledgment in a hallway can have a monumental outcome that could stick with a child forever. Couros reminded the audience that school often is the most joyous place for a child in the entire day.
Laird School Counselor Danielle Juengel said she particularly resonated with Couros’ points as she consistently has seen the power of kindness in action at her school.
“As a counselor, kindness is the foundation of everything I do. Without that relationship and trust, built through kindness, I wouldn’t be able to reach as many students,” Juengel said.
Kindness not only feels good in the moment, but can also have longterm emotional benefits. Juengel noted that showing kindness reduces stress, depression and anxiety in both the giver and receiver.
“It is one of the few things you can do for free that benefits everyone,” Juengel added.
Even in the face of those who are unkind, Couros ended his keynote address by challenging TD3 employees to be advocates for kindness and lead through example.
“We need to make the positives so loud, that the negatives are hard to hear,” said Couros.