There are some teachers you never forget. Whether they mentored you in your favorite subject or helped you on your way to university, positive relationships with our educators stick with us. For many of us, these experiences are why we got into teaching in the first place.
Why are positive student-teacher relationships so important?
Research tells us that when students are in an environment where they feel supported and cared for they are more likely to succeed.
In fact, according to a 2010 study by Marzano Research Laboratory, positive relationships between teachers and students are among the most commonly cited variables associated with effective instruction.
When we can build connections with our learners, we show them we are invested in their education and, in turn, they become invested too.
This all starts with earning each student’s trust. Once we do, we build an environment of mutual respect and set the whole classroom up for success.
1) Teach with passion and enthusiasm
Attitudes are infectious. Young students tend to respond to positivity and animation, but as students mature, seeing genuine care and passion in their teachers is far more important. Find a balance, be yourself.
2) Invest time in learning about your students
Taking the time to learn a little bit about each of your learners at the start of the year is important. Ask your students to write you a letter telling you everything you need to know about them. Reference these letters periodically. When you remember things about your students, it builds the foundation for that positive relationship to thrive.
It can also be great to understand what subjects they like and what they don’t as you’ll know straight away what areas they’ll need more support in. Being able to lend a helping hand without being asked is a trust-building move.
3) Talk to your class with respect
Treat others the way you want to be treated. It’s the golden rule for a reason. Students notice when they’re being talked down to. All relationships are built on mutual respect for one another and this same principle applies in the classroom.
Of course, there will be times when your patience is being tested but take a second to breathe and respond the way you wish a teacher responded to you. That second of thinking can go a long way.
4) Find out about their interests
Everyone has a passion. When you understand those interests, you can use them to your advantage. Maybe you have budding actors in your midst? Incorporate a class play into your next English lesson plan. Perhaps you have some artists in the class? Allow them to show what they’ve learned with art or other creative projects.
When you include the interests of your class into lesson plans, you’ll definitely see an uptick in enthusiasm, helping strengthen the connection between you and your students.
5) Be forthcoming with mistakes
When you make a mistake, be honest about it. It will not only teach them about handling errors with grace but it will model how you want your students to behave in class.
It’s okay to make mistakes and if they see you doing that, they may be more willing to take risks because they know they’re in a safe space.
6) Show an interest in their life outside of school
A lot of teachers today make the mistake of treating school like it’s the only thing in the world. But students have big, bustling lives outside of the classroom and when you show interest in those parts of them, they begin to trust you more.
This can take the form of going to the school basketball game and cheering your students on or simply lightening the homework load on nights when you know there’s a big event going on.
7) Say hello everyday
It might seem like a small gesture but by saying hello to each of your students every day you are establishing a regular point of connection.
Greet each student by name and let them know you see them. Within the first 5 minutes of your day you have already had a personal moment with each of your learners. It starts every day off on the right foot.