Transforming Student Motivation and Engagement Through Intentional Relationships

Adults presenting

While educators are wrapping up waving their graduates off to their next adventure, planning for the upcoming school year is also well underway already. Deputy Director Rob Metz and Regional Project Manager Candace Robinson spoke at the ASCD (Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development) Annual Conference and shared stories, ideas and resources for transforming student motivation and engagement through intentional relationships. Check out the full event recording here!

The virtual conference was an opportunity to empower and connect educators while providing them with best practices, strategies and skills as they engage in summer learning planning.

During the presentation, Metz discussed the 20 years of research with the BARR model, proving the fundamental need for relationships to foster student success. With BARR’s two pillars of intentional relationships and real-time data, they explained how the impacts can be transformational on engaging students as both a person and a learner. 

The BARR team discussed how relationships matter, distinctly: staff-to-staff, staff-to-student, and student-to-student. The staff-to-staff relationship gives educators the tools they need to look at students with a whole child approach. By utilizing a strength-based approach, educators can get to know their students’ stories, strengths, and needs like never before. Robinson shared how a BARR school she works with has been prioritizing discussing students by talking about their strengths, and they have noticed their failure rates decreasing. 

“Relationship-building begins even before kids enter the building,” Robinson said. 

The importance of staff-to-student relationships was another key takeaway emphasized. Robinson shared how when staff show up for students, they can feel supported both in the classroom and beyond. She explained how educators at one Wisconsin BARR school helped raise more than $700 around Winter Break to support eight families by providing them with spirit wear, grocery gift cards and gifts. 

Mentoring was also listed as another helpful strategy to strengthen connections between students. When the structure of a school day allows for students to focus on these relationships, they can feel better supported, cared for and encouraged by their peers.

By building in intentional time throughout the week to intentionally strengthen these three types of relationships through BARR, it can transform the culture of a school community in their approach to enhance student motivation and engagement.