A Lesson to Build Relationships

There is significant value to building relationships when seeking to foster inclusion. And yet, even when we understand the importance of cultivating authentic, meaningful relationships, the practicality of helping students actually do it can be daunting.

Here is a lesson specifically geared for older children and teens:

1.      Have a conversation about the power of words. Discuss how easily words can hurt a person and how it is just as easy to use words to lift someone up.

2.     Brainstorm together positive words that might be used to describe a friend or someone you care about. Consider steering children away from generic words like “nice” and “fun”.

3.     Have one student sit in front of a white board. Gather the other students around him/her to write positive phrases. No peeking! Take a photo of the student and the board when it is complete.

A Lesson to Build Relationships, Removing the Stumbling Block, teens, teach

                                         Photo and lesson idea credit: Melissa Farnsworth


  • Do this activity once a week until every student in the class has had a turn.
  • If you have a white board that is rarely used, consider turning it into a display. Keep the original activity up along with the photo and encourage students to add to the board throughout the week.

I was sitting on a beach one summer day, watching two children, a boy and a girl, playing in the sand. They were hard at work building an elaborate sand castle by the water's edge, with gates and towers and moats and internal passages. Just when they had nearly finished their project, a big wave came along and knocked it down, reducing it to a heap of wet sand.
Building Relationships; Removing the Stumbling Block, Lisa Friedman
I expected the children to burst into tears, devastated by what had happened to all their hard work. But they surprised me. Instead, they ran up the shore away from the water, laughing and holding hands, and sat down to build another castle.

I realized that they had taught me an important lesson. All the things in our lives, all the complicated structures we spend so much time and energy creating, are built on sand. Only our relationships to other people endure. Sooner or later, the wave will come along and knock down what we have worked so hard to build up. When that happens, only the person who has somebody's hand to hold will be able to laugh.”  ~ Rabbi Harold Kushner

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