I recently had the opportunity to attend the annual Region 10 Teacher of the Year luncheon. More than 100 teachers were recognized as the teacher of the year for their respective districts and charter schools, and the finale was the announcement of the Regional Teacher of the Year. As the festivities progressed there were a couple of reminders of how much teachers matter.
The honorees were accompanied by family members, principals, and district administrators. As we were waiting for the program to begin a superintendent seated at my table called his grown son and then handed the phone to a principal from another school district. It turns out that she had been his teacher in junior high and had not seen or spoken to him for several years; her joy at getting to speak with him was contagious.
Part of the program consisted of a slide show consisting of a photo of each Teacher of the Year accompanied by a recorded comment by the teacher. What was striking about the comments was that there was no mention of test scores or curriculum or covering content. What each of these teachers commented on (independently of each other) was the relational nature of teaching; getting to know students and their needs, helping them develop their potential, helping them develop curiosity, character, a love for learning. The tone was set by remarks from the outgoing Regional Teacher of the Year who quoted Maya Angelou I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.
As another school year begins the list of questions above from ASCD (thanks @kklaster for sharing) serves as a reminder: relationships matter.