How to Build Trusting Relationships with Students: Secrets from the Teacher
The positive relationships between teacher and students affect children’s performance greatly, and every teacher should strive to become a reliable adult for students. However, not every teacher wants to learn more about their students as personalities, thus creating barriers to perceiving new information and making even small interactions difficult to handle.
I am a math teacher in middle school, and from my personal experience, I can tell that good relationships greatly increase chances that students will do their best to succeed in your class. They will trust you and rely on you if you make an effort.
I can state with confidence that by investing time and efforts right away, and by interacting with students, you will create a safe environment that will motivate them to succeed. Below, I share some strategies I use for making my relationships with students better.
Learn Names Correctly
Many students, especially those who are marginalized, feel uncomfortable in school. You can show that you value every student’s identity simply by learning their names fast and by pronouncing them correctly. Avoid using nicknames unless students prefer them.
From year to year, on my first day of classes, I have my students create name tents and properly pronounce their names for me. I practice pronouncing their names frequently. I always greet every student by name before my class.
Provide students with the feeling that they are significant by allowing them to bring in something that represents them. Plan about ten minutes every day for a couple of students to share something about themselves until you have provided an opportunity for everyone in the class.
Some of my students have brought in their baby pictures, baseball balls, and souvenirs from other countries. Once, my student, Jack, brought his ukulele and sang a song to the class. My students love such a practice.
Post Student Work and Their Pictures
Whereas elementary teachers often share student work, middle and high school teachers, on the contrary, tend to neglect this essential practice as they consider it insignificant for older students. However, it is proven that older students also need to be reminded that their work is valued.
When my students take part in the show-and-tell, I take pictures of them and then print them and post on a bulletin board in class that stays up all year long. Almost every student likes seeing how they have changed over this time as they realize their growth and development does not limit only to physical, but is intellectual and emotional, too. Besides, they are very proud when their work is displayed and celebrated.
Assign Seats, and Change Them Often
Students do not always get along well, but if teachers provide them with chances to work together, they learn more about one another and find ways to work together even though they are different.
I assign my students to tables of three or four people each; then they have an opportunity to change seats once per week using an online random seat changer. With every change, they are asked quick questions like, “What are you expecting to learn with your new team?”
Often, teachers keep a professional distance from their students. However, devoting some free time to make small talk can significantly help to break down barriers to learning.
As I have made myself approachable, my students like sharing with me some personal stories during the five minutes between classes. I always stop what I am doing, look them in the eyes, and listen. It is an inexpressible feeling when you see students’ eyes light up as they tell such stories. Besides, these encounters provide me with a little more knowledge about my students as personalities.