As a teacher, one of the most important, but often times challenging task is building relationships with students. This is a very important and unique relationship where there should be trust and respect. By building proper relationships, it helps the entire learning process. Similar to building relationships at work, positive experiences can lead to more efficient results.
With that in mind, here are 5 key strategies that can help teachers build healthy relationships with their students.
Have open channels for communication
Learning should never be a one-way dialogue. A teacher cannot stand in front of a class, talk for the entire time, and expect everyone to achieve the desired progress all at the same time. It does not work that way. There should be good communication between the teacher and each student. And this could be done by opening different channels for communication.
While some students are comfortable enough to raise their hands and ask questions in class, some are not. Some may prefer talking in private while others even prefer online or electronic forms of communication. This is why having different channels is important.
And not only that, in building relationships with students, you shouldn’t only have channels for communication, you should encourage it. Having all channels would be meaningless if the students do not feel comfortable in approaching their teacher.
Create a Proactive Approach to Classroom Management
Teachers need to create “yes spaces” in the classroom. What this means is that the focus should not be placed on what students cannot do or do not know, but rather to what they can do. Encourage autonomy and being self-sufficient. They should be given the chance to grow and seek out knowledge rather than waiting to be fed the next line.
Create rules like “listen when someone is talking” so students can proactively talk about the subject matter. Have opportunities for them to experiment and learn from new sources such as games, alternative books and other materials.
Let them explore and learn on their own but with proper guidance as the teacher. Eventually, this will also grow to students teaching each other as well.
Student Initiated Learning
Building relationships with students can lead to them having the courage to learn on their own. It is an empowering feeling that if you provide them with proper communication channels and proactive opportunities, they will reach out and grab knowledge for themselves. This is probably one of the most powerful learning techniques there is because nothing is forced on them, they organically create interest and seek to improve on that subject matter.
Provide Positive Guidance
Of course, none of this means leaving them alone. As mentioned, you are building relationships with students, so you have to be there to provide positive guidance. Ask questions and encourage them to find answers on their own but intervene only when they are struggling. Make it feel like it is their achievement to find the answer.
If students show challenging behaviours or outbursts, respond with patience and compassion rather than punishment. Let them know you understand their frustration and you are there to help them through it.
When you have a classroom that gives them voice, where students feel respected and not talked down upon, that is where a teacher knows they are building relationships with students in the right way. And this is the most powerful way for them to learn and enjoy their time in the classroom.