Teachers play an important role in the learning curve of students throughout the formal schooling experience. Although most research regarding teacher-student relationships focuses on the elementary years of schooling, teachers certainly hold the opportunity to support students’ academic and social development at all levels of schooling. Positive teacher-student relationships allow students to feel safe and protected in their learning environments and provide a supportive framework for important social and academic skills. Pleasant teacher-student relationships are classified as having the presence of closeness, warmth, and positivity. Research also suggests that high-quality relationships between the teacher and student lower the disruptive behaviors students may engage in.
There are numerous ways in which teachers can create a space conducive for students to achieve favorable outcomes and tap their potential educationally, socially and emotionally.
1. Learn the students’ names and other basic information at the onset. Students will appreciate this. Teachers may choose to distribute an information sheet at the first class session. The sheet can ask students for their name, the name they prefer to be called by, where they live, interests or hobbies, a success experience, goals, places they have visited, part-time jobs held, etc.
2. Understand certain personal things about each student. An information sheet mentioned previously is one way to accomplish this. Another activity is to take advantage of the time at the beginning and end of class, before holidays, or after holidays just to talk and listen to students. Ask students about their leisure time, goals and aspirations, and opinions about local, national, and world events. What is talked about is probably less important than the fact that the teacher was interested enough to ask and listen?
3. Provide positive comments when appropriate. Sometimes teachers become so busy or frustrated by the problems that occur that they forget to notice and comment on the positive things students do. Teachers can identify effort, cooperative behavior, and helping conduct. Positive comments or simple compliments pertaining to in-school behavior can help boost the student’s morale.
4. Avoid the use of threats and punishment. If students do something that is unruly, use a time-out procedure instead of punishment. After the time-out procedure has been used, be sure to sit down with students and talk with them. Practice active listening. Inquire how they feel about what arose. Give them a chance vent any negative emotions. After they have had a chance to discuss their feelings, focus on the ways to avoid such an occurrence in the future. Make it clear to the student that it is the behavior and not the person that is unacceptable.
5. Remain unbiased. Some students are easily likable, while others are not. Yet teachers need to be sure that some students do not get special privileges and other harsher treatment because of the teachers’ feelings towards them. During tasks or responsibilities to be carried out, all students must receive an opportunity to participate. This will give help strengthen the teacher-student bond because of a demonstration of trust in the student.
6. Create an environment where questions and answers-even wrong answers-are encouraged and valued. Students absorb and participate more when they feel at ease asking and answering questions. But students will not do so if they think they will be embarrassed. Encourage and acknowledge students when they raise doubts or respond to questions. When students tell you that they do not understand something, appreciate their remark and honesty because it helps you to know what aspects of a lesson need additional attention.
A strong connection and healthy communication between teachers and students can catalyze the academic growth and development of a child. Educators who have solid bonds with their students have been shown to be more effective in their teaching roles. In addition to fewer behavioral problems, teachers with strong classroom relationships are also able to achieve greater levels of academic success among students. When students view their teachers as a partner rather than an opponent, they are more open to learning. Furthermore, this can turn classrooms into a collaborative environment where students are more willing to listen to both the teacher and each other.