Saturday, March 31, 2018

We must Maslow before we Bloom

Maslow before Bloom by @Jennifer_Hogan

Maslow before Bloom - what does it mean and why is it important? 

The fourth quarter of school is a special time. 

At this point in the school year, teachers and students should know each other well, the warmer weather welcomes outside play and activities, and the approach on the close of one of life's mile markers rapidly approaches. 

It's at this juncture that we as educators must ask ourselves, "Have I made a connection with each student?" and "Have I helped students meet their needs in my classroom?" 

We must remember as we enter into this last phase of the school year that we must "Maslow before we Bloom." 

Abraham Maslow (1908 - 1970) was a psychologist who developed the Hierarchy of Needs in a pyramid form with five levels. He describes human motivation as being driven by unmet needs. The lower level of needs must be met before one can move on to the next level. 

Maslow was driven by a desire to understand self-actualization and "peak performance," where a person experiences life at a level of wholeness, service to others, creativity, and profound happiness.

Maslow over Bloom by @Jennifer_Hogan

Each and every interaction that is made on the way to and from school and at school in a classroom, hallway, office, lunchroom, playground, or gym can contribute to a student's needs being met. 

The importance of building relationships goes back to the age-old saying, Kids don't care how much you know until they know how much you care. 

We must Maslow before we Bloom: We can't focus on Bloom without first making sure that students' needs are met. 

So at this time, I encourage all educators (myself included) to reflect about the relationships that we have developed with students at school and ask ourselves, Is there anything more I can do?

While there can be no checklist that is comprehensive enough to ensure positive relationships between teachers and students, there are a few things that can be done during the fourth quarter of school (actually ANYTIME during the school year!) to make sure that students' needs are met and relationships are repaired, created, or nurtured. 

An awesome book by Jimmy Casas reminds us of the importance of "relationships, relationships, relationships." Jimmy understands that students' needs must be met first, and we must Maslow before we Bloom. Culturize is a book that I couldn't put down when I started reading it. It's for everyone in a school... from teachers to principals. We ALL build the culture in a school. 

This post contains affiliate links. That means if you click and buy, I may make a commission at no extra cost to you.

(For your convenience, I've linked the book HERE for purchase.)

Is there anything more we can do to make sure we Maslow before Bloom?

(I would love for you to share in the comments about what you think should be added to this list.)

1 - Smile and greet each student. (If you are a classroom teacher, be at the door to shake hands, fist bump, and greet by name. Also, look students in the eyes as an initial barometer of how they're doing that day.)

2 - Avoid the use of sarcasm. (It doesn't matter how "funny" you are or how sarcastic the student is, avoid it.)

3 - Do a survey of your room for visual clutter. Do you have papers piled up on the counter/desk/floor? Are there items in the corner that you meant to throw away and just haven't gotten to yet? Are old student projects taking over a section of your classroom? If needed, clean your room and provide order for your students.

4 - Teach / re-teach behavioral expectations when working with a partner or in groups. Provide opportunities for students to practice behaviors and be consistent on respectfully enforcing behaviors. Avoid judgment.

5 - Say I'm sorry. If sarcasm is used, apologize. If you recognize that the words, body language, or tone damaged a relationship, apologize. 

6 - Forgive. When a student messes up, forgive him. When a student apologizes, say "I forgive you."

7 - If you notice a student is unhappy, pay attention and ask questions. It just may save a student's life. 

8 - Keep snacks in your drawer/fridge. Students don't usually binge on healthy snacks. Keep carrots, apples, crackers on hand for the hungry student. (I learned the carrot idea from Allyson Apsey.

9 - If you don't have systems and/or routines in place, incorporate them for the last quarter. How to turn in homework. How to schedule a make-up test and/or a re-take. What to do when entering the classroom. What to do with cellphones while in the classroom. How to transition from individual work to group work.

10 - Give lots of praise. Even for the things that students should already be doing. Think about the last time you were praised at work... did it make you want to do more or less?

11 - Try the "2 x 10" strategy. For those students you don't know much about or with whom you have a strained relationship, spend 2 minutes a day for 10 consecutive days having relationship-building conversations. Don't talk about school and/or assignments. Talk about life outside of school, dreams, likes, dislikes, etc. to build or strengthen a relationship with a student. 

12 - See below....

In Fully Charged, authors Julie Adams, PJ Caposey, and Rosa Isiah share specific strategies that can be implemented in classrooms and schools to meet the needs of students. 

(For your convenience, I've linked the book HERE for purchase.)

If you haven't seen the video below, it is a wonderful reminder of the importance of every interaction at school. While we can't meet the needs of students while they're away from us, we must be intentional about our interactions while they're with us. 

Sometimes at this time in the school year, we can take for granted our relationships and each other. We get focused on content and curriculum, but we must remember that positive relationships always come first. 

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Maslow over Bloom by @Jennifer_Hogan


  1. Really powerful post. Thank you for reminding us when we are exhausted and stressed out by impending end-of-year tests. Simple reminders are powerful.

  2. Maslow's Hierarchy of needs is soooo important! I'll continue to implement the list of things I can do to continue to build positive relationships with my students. Love the video!!! It's a reminder to give kids courage, a voice and compassion!!

  3. We must remember that the basis for Maslow is physiological needs - please ensure these are done first or alongside the others. A child cannot learn if they are hungry, if they are scared.