Building Student Relationships

Last week, I had talked about the importance of meeting the needs of students in order to create a good student-teacher relationship. In the article “10 Tips To Build Student Rapport”, Bevin Reinin opens with a quote oh so fitting:

“No significant learning occurs without a significant relationship…” ~Dr. James Comer

Looking back to when I was in high school, this quote rings that much more true. When teachers didn’t try to have a good relationship with me it was difficult to give them respect and listen to them. Often, those were the classes where time was spent talking with friends instead of learning the material. Having known this, it is that much more important now that I’m on the other side of the fence. As a future educator I am aware that in order for my students to want to listen and learn, I need to make them feel respected and valued. After reading Bevin Reinin’s blog, I am left with tips to help establish good student rapport that enables learning to take place. I am going to list the tips she provides, as well as, my own opinion about how this might go over.

1. Positive Discipline
I feel like this sounds much easier than it would be. As a pre-service teacher, one of the areas I plan to learn from the most is classroom management. No one wants to be the teacher who yells; however, if rules are too loosely held, the class turns into a circus. Going into my pre-internship, I am very interested to watch other teachers’ discipline methods and analyze how well it would work for me. I know this is very important in building relationships which is why I plan to do further research on this concept.

2. Share your life
I was told from one of the interns who just finished her placement that “students will eat you alive if you try to be anyone but yourself”. Umm…. yikes! When I heard that I was that much more nervous for my pre-internship coming up; but, the more time I thought about it, the more it made sense. No one trusts a phony. So to develop trust, and relationships, I need to be confident in my self and do my own thing. For students to know that even teachers have lives outside of school, I should bring my own interests and understandings into the classroom (of course, never crossing the line of professionalism).

3. Embed their interests
This one seems like common sense, but because of this can be easily dismissed. In order to build relationships with your students, they need to feel cared for. Likewise, if you are aware of their interests, and incorporate them in lessons, this feelings will come through. If someone took the time to plan something I was interested in, more chances then not, I will have a opinion of them.

4. Morning Meetings/Greetings
Simply put, saying “hello”. By greeting students at the door, you are establishing a positive environment right off the bat. I often remember in high school I had felt invisible. I think by talking and greeting my students, they will not feel the same way I did. When calling on students, and using their names, you are giving them an identity… I would say this is pretty important to building relationships.

5. Book Talks
This one is somewhat similar to #3. Engaging in conversations where both you and your students have an interest will make it easy and natural to build student rapport.

6. Mailbox Messages
This was more designed for elementary school by having a mailbox on the student desk where students could leave notes or pictures. However, I feel the concept transfers easily to high school. By creating a place for discussion to take place, students will be more encouraged to address any concerns or comments they may have regarding their learning. This may be just providing your email address that allows students to get a hold of you at any time, or progression interviews which would bring students in for a one-on-one discussion about what’s going on.

7. Attend Extracurricular Activities
With the busy schedule most teachers have, this one can easily be forgotten. However, if you truly want to build relationships with students, you would attend or watch activities your students are a part of- it often means its one of their interests.

8. Classroom pride
Inclusive classrooms bring a large variety of students to the classroom- this can sometimes cause conflict. But, with proper management, a welcoming space can be created that allows all students to actively participate without worrying about being judged. Students will often be a lot more open to student-teacher relationships if they feel valued and accepted within their classroom.

9. Invite families
More times then not, the people closest to your students are their families. By having conferences or meetings with the student and his/her families you have the opportunity to see your students in a new light. Families may have some valuable information about who your students are that will help build those relationships influencing learning.


3 thoughts on “Building Student Relationships

  1. Thanks for these. This is something I have thought about a lot, but have had no real concrete ways to build relationships.

    Looking at these relationship builders, I find that my memorable teachers from high school did these. I guess it works!

  2. michemachu

    I agree with you. I have had similar experiences and found that when a teacher at least made an effort I was much more interested in working with them. The tips you highlighted, while some are common sense, are so worth mentioning again and thinking about. I feel like I’ll refer back to this before pre-internship. 🙂

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