As I continue to season as a teacher, I’m realizing that building relationships with students, staff, and the community is essential to educating our youth. I strive to make my room the best room that my students are in during the day, and I start by making sure I have a personal relationship with ALL who enter.
According to Hall and Nussbaum-Beach (2012), “Relationships matter. A lot” (p.59). Students need to feel comfortable among themselves for true learning to take place. Causton and Tracy-Bronson (2015) state that in order for all students to grow intellectually they need to have a sense of belonging. In order for this to happen time has to be devoted for the improvement of student to student relationships as well as student to teacher relationships. Fisher and Frey (2015) suggest that up to half of the instructional time should be for student to student interactions. This will allow students to build relationships among themselves. As a result, reciprocal teaching is more apt to happen.
Building student to teacher relationships is paramount in education. Fisher and Frey (2015) state, “...when students feel safe and know that there are adults who care about them, they learn more” Isn’t learning more what our profession is all about? (p.132). According to Causton and Tracy-Bronson (2015), “...developing an authentic relationship with the individual is the best way to understand that person’s strengths, interests, talents, and needs” (p.52). Without knowing these details about our students, from building relationships, how are we supposed to ensure that we are meeting the needs of all the students all the time? After all, it’s all about the students!
In addition, Hall and Nussbaum-Beach (2012) state that developing relationships is the number one thing for trust to occur. Without building relationships with our students it may be extremely hard to develop trust, and without trust it will be hard to make sure all students are learning. Building this trust through relationships can actually help reduce the dropout rate. According to Jensen (2016), “...students’ positive or negative classroom relationships are equal to IQ or school achievement test scores in predicting if a student will drop out” (p.29). If we can predict the students who dropout, we can focus on them and ensure they are determined to finish.
This leads to the question, what are some strategies we can use to ensure effective relationships are being built? One easy way to do this, according to Fisher and Frey (2015), is to welcome students every day. Personally, I try to give each student a fist bump and greet them by name as they enter my classroom. I found this to be an effective way to begin class in a positive manner. Another suggestion the authors give is to make student interest cards. I had my students answer three questions about their interests. I then had them sit next to someone with a similar interest. I found that this helped students build relationships among themselves. By building relationships with students and having students build relationships among themselves, I can ensure that students are more prepared to be lifelong learners. What strategies have you used to build relationships? Please feel free to comment and begin a discussion.
For more about relationships be sure to check out my previous post about this.
Causton, J., & Tracy-Bronson, C. P. (2015). The educator's handbook for inclusive practices.
Baltimore, MD: Paul H. Brookes.
Fisher, D., & Frey, N. (2015). Unstoppable learning: Seven essential elements to unleash student
potential. Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree Press.
Hall, L. R., & Nussbaum-Beach, S. (2012). The connected educator: Learning and leading in a
digital age. Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree Press.
Jensen, E. (2016). Poor students, rich teaching: Mindsets for change. Bloomington, IN: Solution