Building relationships with your students and between students is one of the most important things you can you to improve learning and behaviors in your classroom. Research has proven that students need real connections with adults in their life in order to thrive. Here are some ways you can begin building rapport with your students this year.
Share Things About Your Life
Let your students know that not only are you a teacher, you’re a human being. Sometimes students meet their teacher at the grocery store or the mall and are totally shocked to see them there. As though it never occurred to them that their teacher eats food! Make it your goal to let your students know a little about you personally. This could happen by bringing in some pictures and placing them on your desk, showing students a slide show at the beginning of the year, or telling them a funny story about something that happened to you over the weekend. As students learn more about you, chances are they will share more about themselves.
Say “Yes” As Often As You Can
Set a positive classroom culture by trying to use “yes” as often as possible. If a student asks to go to the bathroom: instead of saying no, say “yes you can, when you finish x”. Some teachers feel they need to continually show students who’s boss and limit their freedom in order to be respected. In actuality, it’s the opposite. You can continue the positive language by even making your rules into a positive statement rather than a negative statement. For example instead of saying “Do not talk with the teacher is talking” you can say “Respect others by being quiet when they are talking”.
Listen to Students
If they bring a suggestion or are excited about a topic, try to incorporate it whenever you can. It’s not just YOUR classroom, it should be OUR classroom and students should have a say on how things are run. Some of best things that go on in my classroom have come from a student suggestion. A way to begin listening to students from the very first day is to have them help write the classroom rules and pick what classroom jobs there should be in the classroom. Ask them to tell you what kind of a classroom they want to create this year.
Celebrate Small Wins
Don’t just talk to parents when students do something bad. Let them know when their child does something good too! You can send a note or phone call home praising a simple thing the student did that day in class or a way they are showing improvement. Doing this will not only help you build rapport with the student, by making them feel loved and appreciated, it will also build rapport with the parent. Enchanted Kinder Gardener created these really cute student and parent notes that are so easy to fill out and send home.
Set the Tone
Share clear expectations for how students should treat and talk to one another. Let them know that you will not tolerate them calling each other names, being rude or disrespectful or talking over someone. Remember, what you ignore you condone so make sure to tell students what you allow and don’t allow.
Hope you have a great start to your year!