it’s all about relationships


I was chatting with some teachers the other day about theories of education and in particular about some of the so called education gurus who often have much to say about how children learn best. As I reflected on our chat I realised  that although I may not be an education guru, that I have, over the years developed my own theories on how and why children learn. So I decided to turn my ideas into my speech for my student’s graduation dinner which is on this week.

My theory is that the key to a child learning is building, maintaining and nurturing a relationship with that child. A relationship that is built on mutual respect and mutual understanding. You see I think children learn best when they are happy, when they feel safe and when they feel loved and respected.

So I have tried to make sure my classroom is full of laughter not rules, that it is full of high expectations and learning. My students know I am a learner too, that I make mistakes and that I am hopeless at spelling. As a result I have more proud moments from the past two years than I can go into here. I have memories of girls conquering their fears, of trying new things, of girls leaving their comfort zones, of learning new skills and taking risks in their learning. Girls who also realise that learning is a lifetime journey.

So tonight I want to thank you for entrusting your daughters into my care so that I could build a relationship with them. For some of you this was only as part of the Year 5 team with Mrs T and for others as part of the Year 6 team with Mr A and Mrs W. What I sincerely hope though is that whether I have taught her in my class, in my maths group or in the whole year group, that I have done my best to build a relationship with her.

So now girls it is time to move to the Senior School and to build new relationships with teachers and students.  You know that I have high expectations of you. You know I expect you to try your hardest and I want you to always remember that. School success will come easier to some of you than others but if you always put in 100% effort then you can hold your head up high, knowing you have done your best and no one can ask more of you than that.

Go out into the Senior School and build new relationships, learn and laugh together and remember Mrs Miller will be watching and you from afar, secure in the knowledge that she did her bit to set you on your path of learning.


Leave a Reply


  1. Viviene Tuckerman

    I could not agree more with your philosophy Henrietta. We all learn best when we feel happy, included and respected. Lots of laughter makes for a great learning environment.

  2. Lynda Humphries

    Nothing could be more important than what you have written here, Hen. Keep up the fantastic work. I hope that many, many, many teachers read this post!

  3. Thank you for your kind words Lynda, sometimes it seems to me that it is the simplest things are those that all teachers should focus on. Actually liking children has also always seemed essential to me!

  4. Lauren


    As mentioned before, I am a student in EDM310 at the University of South Alabama. I really love where you got the inspiration to write the speech from: yourself! It came from your heart and your many years of experience as a teacher. You know your girls better than anyone else does, so you know exactly what to tell them and prepare them for in this next milestone of their lives. You seem to be a wonderful and caring teacher! I look up to you as I am in the process of becoming one myself. You are very wise and I will save your blog to my bookmarks so I can check in and see what other words of wisdom you have to offer! Keep up the great work 🙂


  5. Love this part “So I have tried to make sure my classroom is full of laughter not rules, that it is full of high expectations and learning. My students know I am a learner too, ” You’ve balanced the key relationship part of teaching with the expectation component. And one only works with the other. There has to be a great relationship with the students to get the respect and trust to allow the teacher to demand high expectations.

    The thing I miss most about being a full time classroom teacher is the relationship. I love your reply about actually liking kids. I think some teachers I have encountered over the years have lacked that notion and it showed in their classrooms. Students from 20 years ago I stumble upon are still amazed I remember them. During the year I have them as a student, they are my kids. I still check the VCE ( HSC) results from students I taught years previously.

    Thanks for this post, you’ve made me remember again what I miss most about being a classroom teacher. I’m going to work harder next year to get closer to those students who come and go in the relationship-light role I have.

  6. Thank you for your kind word Lauren, good luck with your studies, I am sure you are on the path to becoming an excellent teacher.

  7. Jenny

    Thank you for these words you spoke to our daughters at the dinner,and now to be able to read again what we heard on that emotional evening ,and reflect on those words I can only say thank you .Your words in the speach ring true of everything my daughter tells us of your classroom. She has grown and learnt more than I can imagine this past year ( I’m constantly playing catch up… good for me also!).

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