As an educator it’s important to remain in a professional position with your students, but keeping your distance professionally doesn’t have to mean neglecting a positive connection. It’s possible to establish a positive relationship with your students without becoming their buddy. The secret to this is becoming genuinely interested in your students as people. By relating to students at this level you increase their sense of self worth, which translates to better results in your classroom.
The first step in building this connection is seeing and connecting with them on a basic level. You have to like them as a person. If you find yourself disliking a student ask yourself why. Most of the time the reason we don’t like someone is because we haven’t taken the time to get to know them. We’ve judged the student based on our first interaction or impression. As teachers we cannot do this. If we really want to inspire and make a difference in our students’ lives, we must commit ourselves to getting to know them. Who they are and why they feel the way they do. You may be surprised by what you uncover.
How do you find out more about your students? Is it even possible to build a unique and caring relationship with each student given the limited time you have in the classroom? Yes, and the first step is getting to know your students names and addressing them personally as they enter your classroom. This acknowledgment says to your students “I see you and I’m glad you’re here.” Then take the time to thank them for coming to class that day.
Here are 8 more ways you can initiate positive interactions and build trust with your students. Try using them to gradually build that positive relationship needed to take your teaching to the next level.
1. Show interest and give complete attention when students are speaking.
2. Share appropriate personal experiences that let them know you’re approachable and relatable.
3. Initiate conversations with students in hallways or after class to let them know you care.
4. Pay attention to your tone and body language and adjust when needed.
5. Smile and have a great sense of humor.
6. Reach out to students who are struggling and help them figure out how to get to a better path.
7. Praise students consistently on their strengths and achievements.
8. Express care, concern, and empathy for each student.