Teacher Feature: Cypress Springs’ Kelli Black reveals her relationship-centered approach to teaching

By Alexis Newman

Sometimes it feels like teacher it just there to lecture and leave, but elementary teacher Kelli Black prefers a more connected approach.

Black has worked at Cypress Springs Elementary School for nine years, five of which were in fourth grade and four in third grade. She currently teaches her favorite subject, math, at the third-grade level, although she has also taught science in the past.

Even though math is considered a purely logical and objective subject, Black believes that one of the best things she can do for her students is show that she cares for them. She said that she puts the relationship with her students first, and then the benefits follow from there.

“Love them first, and then let the work speak for itself,” Black said. “If you get to know the students, they know you love them, they’ll work for you.”

One way to show that is to support the student even when they aren’t at their best. Black said that the students know she cares because she reassures them that it’s okay to slip up sometimes.

“Checking on them. Making sure they know it’s okay to have a bad day. Everybody has a bad day, but you can still encourage them and pick them up when they’re having that,” Black said.

The best way to build a solid relationship, though, is to level with them, and Black said she tries to be as real as possible so that the students know that their teacher is a person too. That recognition helps the students to do their best and not be afraid to mess up.

“Let them know that you’re a real person as well, and doing that just really I think encourages them to let them know that they can make mistakes in their work or they can have a bad day,” Black said.