As we kick off season two of the Designing Education podcast during National Mentoring Month, Bob Balfanz is joined by Tim Wills, Chief Impact Officer for MENTOR, the leading organization in the nation working to scale high-quality mentoring in and out of school.
Positive relationships enable trust, which enables cooperation, and collective and engaged effort. They also serve as a buffer to the impacts of trauma and life's challenges. It is becoming more and more recognized that positive supportive relationships with adults are essential to school success. The pandemic drove home how important supportive relationships in schools between adults and students were to the wellbeing of all. Yet, middle and high schools have not been designed to support and enable strong adult-student relationships. Teachers often see 120 to 150 students a day, students interact with six to 10 or more adults every day for short periods of highly scripted time, which leaves little time or opportunity for students and teachers to get to know each other. As a result, everyone tends to interact with each other based on their role in the school. Thus, only about half of high school students report there is an adult at school who knows and cares about them as a person, with only about one third of students from historically underserved populations saying this. Those that said they had a supportive adult at school reported half the mental health challenges during the pandemic as those who did not. We can see that relationships really matter. They are not nice. They are necessary. So how do we close the relationship gap in schools? Tune in as we dig deep into this question.