In a world overwhelmed by devices, stimulation, and busyness, Nat’s message reminding us of the power and importance of nurturing the student/teacher relationship was just what we needed. Nat used current, research-based ideas to help teachers and school leaders understand how they could build a culture that prioritizes relational teaching. Our teachers felt honored and understood and I truly believe that we have started the year off with more love and connection than ever.
Nat spent a day with our faculty at Rolling Hills Prep and Renaissance Schools. During his presentation, Nat addressed three of the six elements that serve as chapters in his book: establishing connection, maintaining hope, and finding time for reflection during the school day. Nat was prepared and he presented himself as “one of us” - a teacher at heart, and a messenger of the importance of relational teaching.
Nat facilitated a seminar for educators, public and private school leaders, and non-profit executives about his book on relational teaching, Time to Teach: Time to Reach. It was clear that a hunger existed...for more of a focus on the student-teacher classroom connection and on the amazing “heart-work” expert teachers do every day. Nat’s book is built upon their stories, and wisdom is voiced throughout. As allies in the education world, we are inspired by Nat’s message and we are comforted that his mission will elevate everyone’s appreciation for what teachers “really” do.
I found the workshop to be quite informative and well presented. Nat has a way of delivering the information with great ease and comfort, but he is also engaging and energetic at the same time. The workshop spoke to many of us in a way that validates many practices and beliefs that we already subscribe to, but it still provided inspiration of how professional workshops can help teachers regain confidence in their own abilities. He clearly has a deep understanding of relational teaching and the roles that trust, connection and reflection have in teaching and shaping young minds. I could have listened to him for a while longer; his presence is very calming and supportive!
In my best estimation, Nat Damon is the preeminent relational teaching thought-leader. Our kids desperately deserve for his critical voice to be heard. Relational teaching helps students achieve greater outcomes in schools, but also sets them up for greater success throughout their lives.
Nat came for a one hour staff development workshop but took it on himself to spend time getting to know us and our needs as a school.He exemplifies the finest qualities of an excellent teacher: he was caring, interested, and prepared. We had a need for him to help us formalize our pedagogical approach since it is based loosely on relational teaching principles. Although it was only an hour, he helped our staff to see how we can easily implement his approaches in our setting. I highly recommend Nat Damon’s presentation for any school!
Nat came to our school and shared his research into relational teaching. I particularly valued what he said about the need for empty time — even boredom — if a person is to let some things simmer on the back burner of the unconscious and then be open to inspirations, and about how the constant availability of smartphone stimulation leaves little time unfilled to meet this need. Although many declaim against electronic devices, I had never heard the matter analyzed from this angle, and it seems an important insight. I also liked his discussion of how when students start to get “lost” during a class, the teacher will feel torn between the need to soldier on and “cover the material” and the option of stopping in order to reconnect with the students. He described the phenomenon well, and it made me smile ruefully. As a student I have sometimes seen this dilemma resolved the wrong way, and as a teacher I have sometimes made the same mistake myself. It was helpful to be reminded of this with such clarity.
Nat’s presentation got to the heart of our role as educators and reminded us, yet again, as to why we entered into this profession in the first place. Our job is to provide students with examples for how to navigate their young lives with integrity and character, and we must do it with an authenticity in order for them to trust us and allow these powerful mentoring relationships to form. Our students are looking to us to show them how to grow up, and we must model for them those values that Nat so clearly outlines in his work. He reminded our faculty about what is important and provided them with tools for how to measure and reflect on those values.