As a teacher, you have the incredible responsibility of facilitating learning in your classroom, which includes establishing positive, meaningful teacher and student relationships. Building strong connections is key for creating an environment conducive to student success.
In this article, we’ll look at how you can effectively build positive relationships with your students with 7 actionable strategies. Whether you’re new to teaching or have been in education for a while, these tips will help you create stronger bonds with your students so you can put them on the path to academic success.
Importance of student-teacher relationships
The student-teacher relationship is fundamental to your students’ success both in school and outside of it. A positive student-teacher relationship enhances learning, improves engagement and motivation, influences peer relationships, and can have a lasting impact on student lives.
When students have a strong connection with their teachers, they are more engaged and motivated, more likely to participate actively in class, and more invested in their education. In addition, teachers who build a caring and supportive relationship with their students create a safe space where students feel understood and respected. These students are more likely to take risks, express their ideas, and explore their interests.
And because teachers act as role models, positive teacher-student relationships can also influence students’ attitudes towards learning and how students interact with each other. Teachers who model values such as respect and cooperation promote positive behaviours and social interactions, not only between the teacher and their student, but also between students and their peers.
7 ways to build positive teacher-student relationships
1. Provide structure
A well-structured lesson ensures time in the classroom is optimised, with very little downtime. Routines that are transparent and predictable make students feel safe, build trust between students and teachers, and can lead to better learning outcomes. Lesson structures that change frequently, on the other hand, create unpredictability, which can cause anxiety.
In fact, providing structure is so important to student learning that it’s included as one of the “high impact teaching strategies” (HITS) – a collection of 10 instructional practices that can be used to improve student learning. Based on the findings of thousands of studies, the HITS are recognised as the most reliable strategies for improving learning outcomes.
So how do you ensure your lessons are well structured? Start by setting the purpose of the lesson, articulating clear goals and outlining the content you’re going to cover. Make sure transitions between lesson parts are smooth and call attention to main ideas throughout the lesson. Then, end the lesson with a review of the main points.
2. Be enthusiastic
Enthusiasm is contagious and can inspire students to become more engaged and motivated in their learning. That’s because when a teacher displays enthusiasm, it can foster a sense of positivity among their students and ignite curiosity for the subject matter, making students more likely to participate. When students perceive that their teacher genuinely enjoys teaching and is passionate about the subject, it can help to develop trust and connection, building a stronger student-teacher bond.
3. Make learning fun
Students engage more with teachers who make learning fun by creating an exciting and enjoyable learning environment. There are plenty of ways to do this, such as making use of gamification, interactive presentations, AR technology and apps like Promethean’s Whiteboard app, which provides easy ways to enhance lessons and create immersive activities.
Making learning fun not only fosters a positive teacher-student relationship, but it can also improve student motivation and engagement and lead to better learning outcomes. A study found that using digital technology in education has a positive impact on student engagement and motivation, with students being more likely to participate, interact with their peers, and hold positive attitudes towards learning.
4. Show respect and build trust
Respect is fundamental for building a positive teacher-student relationship. When teachers demonstrate respect for their students, it creates an atmosphere of mutual trust and understanding. Students feel valued, acknowledged, and appreciated, which leads to a positive and meaningful relationship with their teacher. Respectful and positive teacher-student interactions foster a sense of safety, encourage students to participate actively in class, and contribute to the creation of a positive, supportive and inclusive classroom climate.
Respectful communication is also essential for effective teacher-student interactions. When teachers listen attentively and respond respectfully, it fosters open and meaningful conversations and builds a sense of connection and understanding between teacher and student.
5. Encourage feedback
Feedback is a powerful tool for building positive relationships with students because it creates an environment of trust where students feel supported and valued, leading to stronger and more meaningful connections.
Feedback can be used to provide praise and recognition for your students’ hard work. This kind of positive feedback can boost your students’ self-confidence and enthusiasm for learning, creating a more positive learning environment, and stronger relationship between student and teacher.
On the other hand, when students receive constructive feedback in a respectful and caring way, they understand that the teacher has their best interests at heart. It shows that the teacher believes in their potential and is committed to helping them succeed. This type of attention helps students feel valued and supported.
It’s also important that feedback flows both ways. Establishing a two-way dialogue gives students the opportunity to share their thoughts and ask questions. This open communication can help students feel comfortable expressing their ideas and concerns, which in turn can help you establish trust.Digital technology is great for capturing and delivering detailed and actionable feedback. For example, Promethean’s ActivInspire Annotate app enables teachers to quickly comment or draw on anything displayed on the ActivPanel screen, including student work, while the ActivInspire Screen Recorder app provides a way to create quick, engaging video feedback.
6. Build a safe and welcoming space
It’s important that every student feels safe and welcome in the classroom. A safe learning environment promotes a positive classroom climate where students feel safe to participate, express their thoughts and opinions, ask questions, and take risks.
Teachers who foster such an environment contribute to the development of positive relationships with their students. It also helps to build trust between students and teachers because it demonstrates that the teacher is committed to their students’ well-being.
The teacher plays a major role in ensuring the classroom is a safe space by building a culture of trust and mutual respect. To create a safe and welcoming space, teachers should celebrate diversity, monitor for and address bullying, encourage questioning, reframe mistakes as learning opportunities and celebrate student achievements.
7. Know your students and how they learn
All students have different strengths and weaknesses, and each of your students will have a learning style that best suits their unique needs. By learning about your students’ different learning styles, you can provide each and every student with the support they need to succeed.
Learning about your students’ learning needs, and then tailoring your lessons to meet those needs, is important for building a positive student-teacher relationship because it shows that you recognise and value the uniqueness of each student. This helps students feel seen, heard, and understood, fostering a sense of connection and trust. It conveys that you care about your students’ progress and success.
One of the most effective ways to accommodate different learning styles is through differentiated teaching, an approach that emphasises personalised instruction (and another one of the 10 HITs). Differentiated teaching enables you to design and deliver lessons tailored to the unique needs of each student in your classroom.
Technology is an invaluable resource for planning and delivering differentiated teaching. For example, you can use Promethean’s interactive display and teaching software to ensure content is accessible and engaging for all students, using technologies like audio recordings, videos, interactive games and presentations, virtual excursions, recorded lessons, podcasts, music, and assistive technologies, such as voice-to-text and text-to-speech software.
Using technology to build positive student-teacher relationships
Technology is an invaluable asset for teachers looking to build positive relationships with their students. EdTech tools can enable you to create more engaging lessons and activities, tailor your instruction depending on the needs of your students, administer and receive feedback, and make learning more fun. These are just a few ways in which incorporating technology into the classroom can help foster strong teacher-student bonds. If you’re interested in learning how Promethean can help you promote positive teacher-student relationships with cutting-edge EdTech tools, get in touch.