Relationship Above All

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Relationship Above All

Relationship Above All

One of the characteristics of an expert teacher is less of a focus on ‘self as teacher’ and increased focus on the needs of learners.Educational Psychology Second Australian Edition

We are developing A Facilitator’s Framework which will help you implement the theory into your practice methods:

A Facilitator’s Framework

There are 10 Focus Areas in the Facilitators Framework:

A Facilitators Framework

We are up to Number 7: RELATIONSHIP

How is your relationship with your Learners going? Do you realise that your relationship with them is more important than any Game you could give them. At the heart of a game is the human interaction and connection. This is why you hear many sportspeople speak of their team being like a family and that a Game can be at the centre of many lives, just as ‘Football is a religion’.

—–It’s not about the Coach and their Coaching; It’s about the Learner and their Learning—–

We need to look at relationship in a more Professional and Ecological way as Facilitators. If our Aims are to develop Confident, Connected and Competent Learners we must acknowledge that to become Confident and Competent, they must be Connected. The stronger the Connection with the child to the environment, the greater the opportunity to explore their potential.

When we are guided by this as an underpinning principle, other complimenting theories such as Self-Determination Theory (Deci & Ryan, 2000.) and Nonlinear Pedagogy, we realise whether that we want to or not, that it is as Bronfenbeffer suggests, ‘Someone’s got to be crazy about that kid’.

Now again, that doesn’t mean as Facilitators we become emotionally invested in every kid’s life, that’s the Parental role. Although the connections you will build with families will be both inspiring and challenging.

But what it can do is help us ‘see the child’. Don’t just see the talent or player or student or Down Syndrome, see the child. It’s a Person First, Player Second Approach that we value.

What matters is that we, as Facilitator, are not at the centre of the child’s learning; The child is.

Person First, Player Second


This becomes our responsibility then,  if we are working with young people, to ensure we are providing a stable and trustworthy presence for them to fully explore interactions with their peers and environments. This is how kids learn. It’s how mammals survive. Learning through PLAY.

It’s not only with us that we must provide connection but more importantly with their peers and the world around them.

So how do we implement a Relational Approach to our learning environment as Facilitators?

  1. Give AUTONOMY and as much DECISION MAKING to the Group: When there can be ownership in an environment, there will be engagement. Eg Asking Questions to the group in relation to the Design of the session: How many teams should we have? How are we going to sort out teams? Take votes to help get faster, fairer decisions from a group.
  2. Use a GAMES-BASED, CONSTRAINTS-LED Approach: Games connect us. Drills isolate us. Why do a passing drill when you can do a Rhondo? (An Overload Game where numbers and therefore passing is the obvious affordance for one team. Common examples being 3v1, 4/5v2, 6v3).
  3. Use GAMES for the whole session, every session:  Game experience is their “repetition without repetition” (Mark Upton) that they need at every opportunity. How to work with others as a team to out-manoeuvre another Team whilst they out-manoeuvre you. How marvellous a challenge!
  4. Move from Motivator to OBSERVER:  If you stand back, they step up. If you’re not talking, they will. If you’re not telling them what to do, what do they do? We are doing a dis-service it we take the rightful place of the Game to be the motivator. We can certainly applaud good play, but there’s no need for ‘Well done’ or ‘Keep going!’ They play for their own pleasure and passion.
  5. Put the PERSON FIRST, Player Second: If you remember nothing else in this post it’s that we are relating with children here. Not mini-adults and certainly not professional sports people. They are kids first and foremost. Even if our Aims and Intentions are for them to Learn , it’s as Theodore Roosevelt said

“No one cares how much you know, until they know how much you care”

In other words, you’d do well to keep RELATIONSHIP ABOVE ALL


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