Image Source: Pixabay
In 2019, across the United States, about 76.5 million students (pre-K to college) went back to school and about 3.7 million teachers were employed. The student-to-teacher ratio can be overwhelming, creating a possible disconnect between positive teacher-student relationships. It’s important to understand the impact teachers have on their students. In fact, a teacher is estimated to have more impact than any other school factor, such as services, facilities, and even leadership.
The importance of positive teacher-student relationships goes beyond improving academic success, it also impacts students' social development. Establishing a relationship with an authoritative figure creates an opportunity for students to define themselves and develop good emotional and social intelligence.
For those students who struggle, a positive relationship with the teacher can help them gain the confidence they need to communicate when they are falling behind. However, if the student lacks communication with their teacher, there is a possibility their academics will suffer.
There are many factors that may contribute to why students may not feel comfortable communicating with their teachers. Unfortunately, in some cases, it’s because the teacher is abusing their power and authority. Few teachers bully their students, but it does happen. Alan McEvoy, an expert in school violence, says in an article about the abuse of power “when students are targeted by teachers, they often feel shamed and powerless. In many cases, they become unable to establish positive relationships within school.”
Understanding the importance of a positive teacher-student relationship is one thing, but building that relationship up is another thing completely. Resources, such as activity books and books for early childhood through middle school-aged students, are a great way to begin the introduction to a new, positive relationship.
Aside from activity books, there are a couple more ways to build positive teacher-student relationships. Listed below are ideas that can be applied in the classroom to make it a better environment for all involved.
Whereas some students respond well to structure, there will always be a select few that don’t. However, structure can provide students with the familiarity and reliability they need to feel comfortable in a scholastic environment. Strategies for providing structure in the classroom include:
Don’t Be a Hypocrite: Teachers should follow the same rules that they have created for their students. How can you expect your students to follow the rules and be prepared each day if you don’t as well?
Hold Students Accountable for Their Actions: Dealing with any issues immediately encourages students to be great and not to settle for anything less. It’s important to remember that it’s easy for small issues to turn into bigger ones over time. Addressing all issues from the beginning, even if they’re small, shows that students can’t get away with anything, and will be held accountable for their actions
Set High Expectations: Setting goals that are challenging, yet realistic and achievable, helps students to grow individually and as a class.
Structure Starts on Day One: Regaining the attention of the class after it’s been lost can be difficult. Creating and maintaining structure in the classroom should start on day one. Walk the class through different expectations and explain how different actions will result in different consequences.
Using humor in the classroom can be an effective way to engage students in different learning activities. When teachers laugh with their students, it can create a more comfortable environment. There are many ways to implement humor in the classroom, including games, videos, images, parody, and comical voices.
“I will do almost anything to get the class rolling with laughter; voice inflections, exaggerated facial expressions and movements, hilarious personal stories, ridiculous examples...and I encourage my students to do the same,” says Kaywin Cottle, a Speech Communications teacher.
Storytelling is a form of communication that can be used both in and outside of the classroom. Storytelling is an effective way to learn because it creates connections among teachers and their students and is an easy way to portray ideas. Storytelling:
Has something for everyone;
Present learning in a way that is easier to remember.
Students need a variety of tools to help them succeed. It can be everything from:
To resource tools such as:
Students are more likely to succeed if they have the proper textbooks. However, teachers may not have the finances to provide the textbooks that are necessary, so it is important to know where to purchase books for students.
Going the extra mile in education can mean different things. For some teachers, going the extra mile means providing all of the supplies for their students, decorating the classroom with an elaborate theme, or even bringing in a treat once a month. For others, going the extra mile can be more sentimental. Teachers that take the time to get to know who their students are as learners, actively listen to everyone’s point of view and ask for feedback, can help them better plan for their overall education while creating a positive teacher-student relationship.