Building Supportive Relationships

» Ryan Richards [BEd 2009]

“When you look out into a classroom of 30 students, somewhere there is a challenge”

— Ryan Richards [BEd 2009].

Many of the students Ryan works with are considered “at risk” and face such issues as a destructive home life, bullying, or even trouble with the law. “I’ve had students come into the classroom and they’re crying even before attendance has been taken or a book has been opened,” says Ryan. “The reality is many students need support before learning even happens. Sometimes an issue needs to be addressed before class.”

Ryan Richards'One of Ryan’s grade 5 students was sure she hated math. Ryan used a combination of engaging learning games and a positive attitude to help the student see her relationship with math differently. Not only did her marks improve, but math is now one of her favourite subjects.

“I want students to feel good about being able to figure out something they didn’t know,” says Ryan. “Celebrating those small victories, giving her a high five and telling her to keep going – that impacts the way she sees herself as a math student.”

Ryan works for the Toronto District School Board as a Model Schools for Inner Cities Teaching & Learning coach. He partners with lead teachers and administrators from 12 different schools to plan and facilitate learning communities.

Ryan supports students by using a model he learned at Tyndale. “A strategy Tyndale taught me is to meet children at the door,” says Ryan. “If you greet them and see there’s a problem, sometimes it just takes a quiet word before class. What students walk away with is that supportive relationship.”