The RELATE program began in 2017-18 in three Boston schools. Its mission is to increase trust in schools by providing educators with experiential learning about group leadership and dynamics. The two core goals of the program are to foster student growth and learning by helping teachers learn to build supportive and healthy classrooms, and to improve teacher morale and retention by building strong collegial relationships.
"RELATE" stands for Realizing Educational Leadership and Teaching Excellence. Our key program is the creation and support of teacher discussion groups within schools. Groups of 8-12 educators meet regularly throughout the school year, led by experts in teaching and group leadership. Groups discuss important aspects of their work involving students or systems issues. Classroom situations, and the group discussions themselves, provide opportunities to observe and understand group dynamics. These lessons are then applied in the classroom.
Groups meet in elementary schools, middle schools, and high schools. The groups vary significantly in terms of teachers’ levels of experience and content areas discussed. This diversity among groups is a significant program strength. Leaders help each group define objectives based on members’ goals and the needs of the school, rather than imposing a uniform agenda on every group. Core leadership skills can all be learned while discussing any meaningful topic.
RELATE is designed to be sustainable by minimizing reliance on outside staff and money. First-year groups are co-led by an outside facilitator with expertise in group leadership working with an in-house senior educator. The first year serves as an apprenticeship experience for the in-house leader, with adequate time set aside for discussion of leadership techniques with the outside leader. In the second year, the in-house leader leads the group alone, and continues to meet with the outside leader for supervision and support.
Feedback on the program has been enthusiastic. Teachers attended meetings faithfully, and chose to continue in their groups for a second year. They feel more support from their colleagues and the school, and report they are more effective in the classroom. Two of the three participating schools will double the number of groups they will offer in 2018-19, and the third will continue at its existing level. An evaluation of RELATE by the Program Evaluation and Research Group documents these successes in detail. This report was based on surveys and interviews with teachers, principals, and group leaders.
This website was made possible through the support of the Northeastern Society for Group Psychotherapy Foundation.