The development of positive relationships with students is absolutely critical in the learning process. Regardless of the content you teach, it is important to remember that you teach real life, flesh and blood people. As such, it is imperative that you connect with them in meaningful ways, so that you have the greatest opportunity to influence them. How do teachers develop these relationships? Here are a few suggestions:
- Smile. When I went through my teacher preparation program, I was told by a senior teacher, “Don’t smile until Christmas.” He was serious, and he was wrong. Smiling makes you feel better, and it makes those who see you feel better. It conveys warmth and joy. It invites people into your world.
- Be welcoming. In spite of all the social media videos that show teachers greeting their students at the door with individualized and elaborate handshakes, it doesn’t have to be that difficult. Simply say hello, howdy, greetings, wazzup, hey there, hey, how ya doing, or something of the like to welcome students to the classroom. Do this every day when students arrive.
- Be nice. It’s difficult to imagine, but there are some teachers that are not so kind to students. Don’t be one of those people. Be kind. You’ll win students over more readily and be better positioned to build a quality relationship.
- Be funny. Use humor in the classroom as appropriate. A “Joke of the Day” may be as useful as the daily objective, because laughter is a great connector. Puns, word play, and those groaner dad jokes are a welcome addition to your classroom repertoire and encourage relationship building.
- Be interested. Being interested in people makes them feel valued and helps build meaningful relationships. Ask students about the activities they undertake outside of the classroom and listen to their responses. Students of all ages like to talk about themselves. Use that help build connections.
- Be a model. It has been said that “more is caught than taught,” so in your words and deeds, model the kinds of relationships that you want to see developing in your classroom. Your students will pick up on the cues and will begin to work at building relationships with you and their peers.
As you prepare for next week, think of all the things you can do to further connect with your students. You will be glad you did!