Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning

Assistant Superintendent Greg Wolcott on “Building Relationships in Today’s Classrooms”

July 23, 2019

Welcome back to the “Neuroscience Meets SEL Podcast” this is Andrea Samadi. This interview will be broadcast on YouTube as well as on the regular podcast channel, so be sure to look for the YouTube link in the show notes if you would like to view the video.

Our special guest today is Greg Wolcott.  He is someone who is “always on the cutting edge of education.”  Greg is the author of the book Significant 72: Unleashing the Power of Relationships in Today’s Schools[i] and is on a serious mission to impact our schools with this movement. Greg currently serves as the Assistant Superintendent for Teaching and Learning in a suburb of Chicago as well as an adjunct professor. As an educator in the Chicago area for over 20 years, he is passionate about developing opportunities for all students to succeed as well as finding ways for all teachers and staff members to utilize their strengths to maximize learning. I’m excited to have Greg share more about the “Significant 72” initiative that’s implemented in over two hundred schools across the United States and Canada.  Welcome Greg.

Q1: As we dive into the relationship competency, I know there isn’t anyone I could think of that could cover this topic better than you. Can you give some background on the reason why you wrote this book? I remember hearing you talking about the concept of “Significant 72” on an SEL Webinar back in 2016. I remember you mentioned it had to do with the importance of relationship building after 3-day weekends. Where did the concept begin, what does Significant 72 look like in a school (every day, every month and after long breaks)?

Q2:  When you mentioned the research you had done, and found the key attribute that all great teachers do—their ability to form strong, caring relationships with students, how did you take this information to help build on this strength to connect with students on a deeper level? 

Q3: We know from the research that “When students perceive that their teacher knows them both academically and personally, they are better positioned to take ownership of their learning.” (Edwards & Edick, 2013).  We can all recall are favorite teachers who inspired us to learn, but how did they do it? There’s that fine line of showing you care and being too intrusive when asking students about their feelings or personal lives. How did you handle this to get the results you were looking for? GREG: It all began with John Hattie’s research on effect size and how relationship building yielded a gain of 2 years.[ii]

Q5: Can you give us your TOP tips used in “Significant 72” for improving relationships with students?

Q4: What are the outcomes and results from the schools using this method? How are you measuring this data? GREG: They use Panorama Education Surveys[iii]

Q5: What is your 3-5 year vision of where you see “Significant 72” going?

Q 6: To sum this all up, what are some final words of wisdom that you think we can all do (parents, as well as educators) to build stronger, meaningful relationships that foster that home/school connection? GREG: Connections Before Curriculum!

Thank you Greg, for taking the time out of your day to speak with us and share your Significant 72 book, ideas and resources. If someone wants to learn more, they can go to www.significant72.com  and find you on Twitter @GregJWolcott to reach you.

[i] www.significant72.com

[ii] https://visible-learning.org/hattie-ranking-influences-effect-sizes-learning-achievement/

[iii] www.PanoramaEd.com

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