Human Connection: The Critical Piece to Student Achievement

Jim Blair +4.7.16 | 05:12 AM


If we’re really going to move the needle in getting students into college and careers it’s clear that making deep human connections is the key. And the better the connection, the more likely it is to lead to the kind of student achievement we’re all after. So, how can that happen? And how can we make it happen more consistently?

This article about at risk students in Baltimore describes “webs of support” provided by an organization called Thread. The idea is to surround students with a network of adults that won’t let go. The main thing is to form deep relationships with each student. The lengths they go to keep students in the game is amazing: “The offer is unconditional support. A student will not get kicked out, no matter how hard he or she tests volunteers. “They have to agree to join and their guardian has to agree and sign a lot of paperwork,” adds Hemminger. “We tell students: ‘Once you are in you cannot get out. This is serious. It’s not something you can undo. You’re going to want to undo this, but once it’s happened, it’s happened.’”

The dedication of the volunteers sets the group apart. They provide the “family” that these students need. Getting to this level of support requires incredible amounts of time. I wonder what technology can do to enable this kind of support to reach more students or to connect with students more deeply.

Thread’s results are astounding: “Of the 176 students who have been in Thread for less than five years, 97 percent are still attending high school or have graduated. Of the 79 who have been in the program for over five years, 92 percent have graduated high school and 80 percent have enrolled in a two or four year college or certification program. (In Baltimore’s public schools, only 72 percent of students graduate high school within five years.)”

Clearly, the human side of this equation is what makes all the difference. What I wonder is how technology can do to make these kinds of connections happen more easily and consistently. Where have you seen technology enable the kinds of connections we’re after?

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