Teachers often talk about how hard it is to connect with and get to their students. They say students view them as out of bounds; hence according to students, teachers cannot understand them. This is a wrong and dangerous assumption on the students’ side, and teachers should do their best to debunk this myth and form connections with their students.
Developing positive relationships between teachers and students has a positive, significant, and long-lasting impact on the students’ lives, both academically and socially. A student would work better in class if they felt that their teacher valued and cared for them. We all would want to feel loved and cared for, and so do students. They feel valued if the teacher not only cares about their grades but also their well-being and social life.
How to create a good relationship with your students
- During your first class, you could share some personal information such as your background, your hobbies and interests, or why you love teaching. This kind of opening up helps as students feel that you are closed off, that they can connect and talk to you just as you have done with them. A teacher seems more approachable if they share some information about themselves, as opposed to those that don’t offer any information about themselves.
- When teaching a new class, gather any information you can on the students in that class, such as their names, hobbies, behavior in class (from previous teachers) and any other pertinent information that is readily available. This helps whenever you are interacting with the students, as they would feel significant if you know a few things about them.
- In the first few minutes before class starts, a teacher could engage in casual conversation with the students about their night, favourite movies and TV shows, gaming, music, sports, and anything else they would want to talk about. This way, students slowly open up to you, and with time you can tell what is happening in their lives from what they talk about.
- Try to attend the extracurricular activities, such as sports, that your students participate in. Showing interest in your students’ co-curricular activities is important as the students feel that you care about every aspect of their life. The simple act of showing up for, say, a football tournament where your student is playing is important to the student, as it shows that they matter and that you are involved in their life.
- As a teacher, you should be available to your students, and your office should have an open-door policy where students are encouraged to walk in if they need to talk about anything. You could get to school an hour before classes start, and be available for any student, past or present, who needs to share or talk about something in their lives. Some may be battling depression, others could be worried about their future, while others simply need someone to talk to about general teenage problems without being judged. This way, you create bonds and connections with the students.
- When in class, incorporate humour in your lessons. This creates a relaxed atmosphere where students can easily contribute to the lesson. Asking students to share any experiences they have that relate to the lesson’s content is also a good way of getting them to relax and talk to you.
What is the importance of creating these positive relationships?
- As a teacher, you can easily get to your students well, and your instructions well received, if you have formed a good relationship with them. Students are most likely to respect, listen to and obey you if you engage them and connect well with them.
- Improved grades. Teachers who have a good relationship with their students report an improved performance in academics. This is because students can easily approach their teacher for help if they have a problem in a particular course, and also because a student is motivated to work harder if they know that their teacher genuinely looks out for them. The teacher can also come up with the best and most effective teaching method since they know their students well, instead of adopting a generic method that doesn’t work well.
- If a teacher is invested in their students’ lives, it is easy to know if a student is going through a difficult time. This is because the teacher can easily tell when the student is not behaving normally, or the student confides in the teacher because they trust them. The problem is then addressed instead of letting it grow and stressing the student.
It is important for teachers to know that there is more to students than their grades in class, and it is even more essential if the teachers showed interest in other aspects of the students’ lives, outside the classroom.