She instilled in me a sense of confidence.

Robert Marzano

Co-Founder, Marzano Resources

Denver, CO

I seldom, if ever, tell this story but it seems relevant to this occasion. When I was in elementary school, I had a very noticeable stutter which embarrassed me immensely. Even now, many years later, I can recall some of the strong negative emotions I would experience when I had to speak in class.  

My father was in the navy and we traveled a lot, so I never stayed in one school for too long. Right around the end of the third grade, we stayed for about four years in one school, and that was the school where a teacher went to bat for me. I was desperately shy and had that stutter, and my grades weren’t great, so the school wanted to hold me back a year. But Mrs. Conklin, the fourth-grade teacher, argued that they shouldn’t hold me back. She repeatedly told me I would be great at things and encouraged me to participate in activities with other kids. I don’t know why she singled me out and supported me, but I started to believe that I actually could be really good at things and that I was smart and talented. She instilled in me a sense of confidence that was critical for me as a student and as a child.

Much research backs this, but my own experience especially reiterates that relationships directly affect student achievement.

Robert J. Marzano, Ph.D., is Co-Founder and Chief Academic Officer of Marzano Resources. A researcher in education, he is a speaker, trainer, and author of more than 50 books and 200 articles.

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