Strategies teachers can use to build a good teacher student relationship

1. Build teacher student interaction in the classroom on the principles that guide teachers in everything they do. Without these principles such as fairness, integrity, honesty and respect it isn’t possible to build with students strong healthy relationships that last.

2. Play a proactive role in building up the quality of student teacher interaction. Of course the students must play their part, it’s two-way traffic, but teachers must lead, and must feel confident that they will be able to succeed in establishing and maintaining a sound and productive rapport with students.

3. Understand the students and find out what they need: this means getting to know students as individuals as well as a group. For example, an important part of the teacher student relationship is getting to know each student in terms of their cultural background, intellectual profile, learning strengths and academic potential, as well as their interests outside of school and what they do for fun.

4. Put respect and self -esteem at the heart of classroom interaction. Remember that many students will need to learn how to both give and receive respect.

5. Use discipline systems that work. The majority of teachers probably favor an assertive discipline model, which is clear, consistent, and, when conducted properly, promotes an effective middle path between hostility at one end of the spectrum and passivity at the other.

6. Offer students interesting activities that enable them to engage with the learning, have some fun, and develop a sense of belonging to a cohesive group. Success is more likely if students have some element of control and choice over both what they do and how they do it.

7. Enjoy being in the company of your students, after all, you spend a lot of time with them each week, and if you make the effort to see time spent with students as a pleasant experience the relationship with your class stands a better chance of being successful. Don’t misunderstand – it’s not good to be over-familiar with students – you’re their teacher not their friend, and you should maintain a certain ‘professional distance’, but letting students see you appreciate being with them is a very positive step towards building successful rapport.

8. Use the balance of power in the classroom to build synergy with students, so that both sides ‘win’ and get what they want, but not at the expense of the other.One traditional view of classroom power is that the teacher holds it all.

In reality, this is not the case, because, in fact, both teacher and students construct the power matrix together. When a teacher’s behavior becomes overpowering, such as being too strict, students seem to know instinctively how to apply controlling pressure to gain the upper hand, and teachers often find their decisions being questioned and their authority undermined.

Giving students a share of the power can make it possible to construct a positive relationship in which students feel they have a share, and therefore a commitment not to abuse their power.

9. Make sure communication with students is good. This applies both to non-verbal communication as well as to verbal communication. It’s easy to assume that what is very clear to you as a teacher is also clear to students, but in practice this may often not be the case.

10. Find ways to motivate students to become willing partners in the classroom. Classroom synergy always suffers when students lack motivation which in turn often leads to a breakdown in classroom control.

Skilled use of these ten strategies will go a long way to help build a healthy and successful teacher student relationship. The last two, communication and motivation, need particular attention, the first because it’s the glue that keeps the relationship together every day and the second because the teacher student relationship is a partnership, and partnerships rarely work for long if one of the partners is unwilling.

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