5, Oct 2023
Fostering Positive Relationships in the Classroom

Building Relationships in the Classroom

Students learn better when they have positive relationships with teachers. Those connections are even more important during uncertain times like the coronavirus pandemic.

Authenticity and empathy are key to building relationships. Consider implementing strategies such as the Two-by-Ten strategy where you spend two minutes each day for ten days talking with a student who has behavior issues.

1. Take the Time to Get to Know Your Students

The first step in building relationships with students is to take the time to get to know them. It’s important to find out what they like and dislike, their interests, and the things that matter to them in life.

For example, commenting on a student’s T-shirt or asking about an interesting sticker on their laptop shows that you care. Taking the time to respond to them personally will also help build relationships.

Getting to know the students in your class can also be a great way to address behavior issues. However, it’s important to do so in private so that students don’t feel embarrassed or disrespected.

2. Spend One-on-One Time with Students

One-on-one teaching allows teachers to really connect with students and build a bond. It also helps students learn to interact with figures of authority.

In a one-on-one setting, instructors communicate with students in similar ways they themselves speak. This removes the barrier for many students who may feel embarrassed to ask questions in class due to fear of being judged.

It also gives instructors the opportunity to quickly gauge their student’s progress and mastery. They can adjust assignments, course projects, deadlines and more to fit the needs of each individual student. Even small things like a student’s favorite T-shirt can spark an easy conversation.

3. Encourage Students to Talk to You

Students who feel connected to their teachers have a more positive classroom experience. This can help them learn and manage behaviors.

Show your interest in your students by chatting with them about their lives outside of school. Whether you are commenting on their favorite band or team or talking about their hobbies, this is an easy way to build relationships with your students.

Try using dialogue journals to allow students to share with you in private. This is a great way to build student-teacher relationships and give students the chance to express themselves in front of other students. Dialogic validation is an excellent technique to use with marginalized students who are afraid of their ideas being rejected.

4. Encourage Students to Talk to Others

Students innately want to talk, and limiting their talking time can be frustrating for many. Finding ways to encourage students to talk to one another can improve classroom dynamics and learning.

Some teachers use a “Getting to Know You” questionnaire at the beginning of the year or dialogue journals. These strategies allow students to discuss their family life, their favorite things to do, and their likes and dislikes with each other.

Other strategies include greeting students at the door with a smile and using humor, allowing for a brief discussion at the end of class, or giving each student an opportunity to share something personal during group work. These activities help students feel recognized and valued.

5. Encourage Students to Ask Questions

Students need to feel comfortable asking questions and discussing their ideas with the teacher. If they do, this will make it easier for them to understand new information.

Students also need to know that their questions are appreciated. When a student’s question is dismissed or ridiculed, it can discourage them from ever asking another one.

Many teachers encourage their students to ask questions by creating a “Wonder Wall” in the classroom and allowing them to post sticky notes with their questions throughout the year. This is a great way to build student confidence while still fostering a love of learning! Listening to student answers – and really listening – is also very important.

6. Encourage Students to Ask for Help

Getting students to ask questions can be a big challenge. Many students are too shy to admit that they don’t understand something and fear being laughed at or ridiculed by their peers. Others feel like they need to master a subject on their own because of the value placed on independence in Western society.

Teachers can lower these social stakes by encouraging students to ask for help in small groups, individually or by making themselves available after class. They can also encourage students to seek help from their classmates and reveal how getting help is common in the professional world to make students more comfortable asking for it themselves.

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