Relationships are essential to learning. Kids connect more to learning when they feel more connection to their teacher. A great classroom environment begins by building great relationships.
So how do you build great relationships with your students? Here are 5 tips I promise will make your relationships stronger.
What if everyone in your school tried to get a little better at these five things every day? Wow! That would be an amazing school culture.
1. Connect with your students.
Learn your students’ names…on the first day. Greet them at the door. Make eye contact. Smile. Ask them questions. Ask them their opinion about a movie or type of music or your teaching. Joke with them. Offer fist bumps and high fives. Know at least two things about each student that have nothing to do with school.
2. Invest in your students.
Believe in your students. Look for opportunities to affirm their strengths. Build them up. Show your approval. You will have far more influence if they know you’re in their corner. Plant seeds in their mind of the great things they will do in their future. Treat them like future world changers. “You’re going places. You’re going to do great things.” Then point out how their incredible strengths will take them far.
3. Personalize learning for your students.
Meet students where they are. Get to know their passions and look for opportunities to connect learning to those interests. Provide experiences that allow individual strengths and personality to shine. Place responsibility on your students and let them know you trust them. Never teach down to your students. Teach them in ways that empower them as learners.
- How often do your students have input on how they will learn?
- How often do your students have input on what they will learn?
- Are your students given opportunities to lead conversations?
- Are your classroom goals developed by the teacher alone or in partnership with students?
- Do your students have some time to pursue their own goals?
- How often do you ask your students for feedback on their experience in your classroom?
4. Give time and attention to your students.
Notice when a student is having a bad day. Offer encouragement. Make eye contact. Stop and really listen. There are so many people and things clamoring for your attention. To give your attention to something is an amazing gift. Too often we make our plans a higher priority than our purpose. Our purpose might be to connect with our students, but what about our plans for today? Can we let go of those for a couple of minutes?
You can also give time and attention by making that positive phone call home, writing that note of encouragement, or attending that ballgame or concert after school.
5. Forgive your students.
Every kid deserves a fresh start in your classroom every day. Time spent holding onto yesterday means less time moving forward today. Forgiveness protects the relationship. It allows you to set aside those frustrating moments with a kid and believe today can be better. It’s part of being able to enjoy your students…all of them. They’re kids and they’re not always going to show up well in your classroom. If you enjoy them and take delight in them, even with their imperfections, you’ll feel better about yourself and enjoy teaching far more.
I think we can all continue to grow in our ability to build stronger relationships. What ideas do you have for building relationships in your classroom or school? How will you grow stronger in this area? Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter. I look forward to hearing from you.
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