I distinctly remember my first year in the classroom. It was a few months after I graduated from college. All the best teaching methods, theories, and strategies to reach my students were still fresh on my mind. I made sure I implemented all my teaching practices in every lesson to make them the most effective and engaging. As the first quarter blew in and blew out, I felt this notable disconnect. While I certainly spent time getting to know my students in the first few weeks of school, I had to ask myself, “do I really know them? Or do I just see them as ‘Trent in 1st period’?” This is when I realized the importance of having a teacher student relationship.
How does the teacher and student relationship affect education?
As the teacher in your classroom, you have the capability to set the precedence with expectations. If you form a positive teacher student relationship and have high expectations, your classroom will follow suit and become a positive and supportive space with motivational learners. Teachers who support their students in their learning environment can positively impact their social and academic outcomes, which is important for the long-term trajectory of school and eventually employment. Consider surveying your students to see their long-term goals. Provide students with self-paced Nearpod lessons designed for their unique career interests. Conference with them individually to assess their needs and support their ideas.
The association between academic improvement and a positive teacher student relationship is students’ motivation and desire to learn. Students who perceive their relationship with their teacher as positive, warm and close are motivated to be more engaged in school and to improve their academic achievement.
In fact, did you know that students who went from low teacher closeness to high teacher closeness significantly increased in math skills over the transition year, from elementary to middle school. A teacher student relationship is as important as all the teaching strategies and theories you learned in college. But how can we begin to build a teacher student relationship?
How can teachers build positive relationships with students?
There isn’t a one size fits all when it comes to building relationships with our students. Every student has a unique story; therefore, every student deserves a unique relationship with you. Let’s look at how you can begin to build those unique relationships.
1. Say hello and goodbye every single day.
Consider making this unique for each student with handshakes, dances, and gestures.
2. Call home for good behavior more often than bad
Set a goal aside every week to pick a handful of students, record their name in a notebook with a kind memo, and call home on Friday’s. It will take 10 minutes, but the impact is everlasting. Those students will come to school on Monday filled with contagious giddiness and gratitude.
3. Student Letters and Questionnaires
Allow students to complete a First Day of Class Questionnaire (Elementary & Secondary). Save your PDF Nearpod Report to reference later. Surprise them with a sweet treat or spark a conversation about their interests!
Lessons to improve teacher and student relationships:
1. Let students inside your world
Take them on a VR Tour of places you’ve been or where you’re from. Provide them content about your culture and your interests. Who knows!? Maybe you have a few things in common!
2. Believe they will do great things
Give them content with high engagement and rigor and when they need your support, be there – genuinely and wholeheartedly believe they can do it. Check out this Nearpod Solo Session about Conscious Classroom Management.
3. Be authentic
Are you teaching a Flocabulary lesson? Want to sing along? dance? Do it! Students will LOVE to see the fun side of you have and laugh with you. I’m sure it will be a lesson they won’t forget!
4. Listen and validate their feelings
Take moments to discuss their issues and emotions. Check in with their Social and Emotional Wellness, frequently – who knows, you may be the only one that has.
Each of these suggestions can be small actions that create a tremendously large and effective bridge to bond your student relationships. Consider creating goals for yourself quarterly or weekly to ensure you are making a conscious effort to reach all your students.
When students feel their teacher is a caring person, then the classroom becomes a supportive and happier place for everyone. Maintaining good relationships between teachers and students is an all-around winning plan that creates an environment where real learning can take place. Challenge yourself to be authentic with your students and genuinely create meaningful relationships with them. I guarantee you won’t regret it!
Katie is a Personalized Learning Leader in Volusia County Schools. She helps teachers incorporate educational technology into their curriculum. She believes that students deserve an instructional practice that resonates with their daily lives, and that includes the utilization of technology. She is on a mission to promote the endless benefits that edtech can have on 21st century instructional practices.