There may be nothing more important in a child’s life than a positive and stable relationship with a caring adult. For students, a positive connection to at least one school adult — whether a teacher, counselor, sports coach, or other school staff member — can have tremendous benefits that include reduced bullying, lower drop-out rates, and improved social emotional capacities.
Rather than leave these connections to chance, relationship mapping invests time in making sure that every student is known by at least one adult.
Using this strategy, school staff identify youth who do not currently have positive connections with school adults during a private meeting. Those students are then paired with a supportive adult mentor within the school. Throughout the year, mentors support each other through the successes and challenges of building relationships with students, and school administrators routinely communicate with staff to determine how well the process is going. At the end of the year, the staff convenes to talk about how their efforts may have positively affected students. Adults may also choose to pay particular attention to “at risk” students as these connections may be particularly important for students who are having a hard time at home or in school.