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5 Strategies to Develop Positive Teacher Student Relationships

By: VHS Learning

As an educator, one of the most lasting impressions you can have on students is making them feel respected, supported, and heard. Positive teacher student relationships are critical to providing effective instruction, and studies even suggest that these relationships are the cornerstone of student achievement.

There are many ways to support students’ learning in the classroom but investing time to connect with students is a crucial step to creating an environment where students feel motivated to be successful. The power of positive teacher student relationships is huge, but teachers must be intentional about building them in order to develop strong connections from the start.

Here are five strategies to develop positive teacher student relationships:

  1. Be an active listener.
    The foundations of positive teacher student relationships are built upon mutual respect and trust. Sometimes, the best way to develop this connection is by making yourself approachable to students and taking the time to listen to what they have to say. When students can share tidbits of their lives with an attentive teacher, they feel more supported and able to express themselves. This can also help students feel more comfortable discussing their educational needs and opinions with teachers, giving them greater agency over their learning.
  2. Share things you are passionate about and engage with students about things that they are passionate about.
    Sharing the things that excite and engage you is a great way to show students your personality outside of just being their teacher. You don’t need to share all the details of your personal life, but telling students about your hobbies, interests, family, and pets gives them greater context of you as a person, while also giving them a way to connect with you over shared interests or experiences. It’s also important to listen to students when they share what they are passionate about, as this mutual interest and engagement is what helps to build respect and deepen teacher student relationships.
  3. Offer students a space where they can be themselves.
    As a teacher, it’s important to understand that students are all unique people with different perspectives, strengths, and experiences. Creating a classroom where students feel comfortable being themselves and sharing their ideas and experiences is crucial in developing positive teacher student relationships. Teachers need to be willing to not only accept students for who they are on their best days, but also learn how to support and encourage students when they experience challenges or make mistakes.
  4. Celebrate student achievements and highlight student work.
    Celebrating students’ success is so important to creating an environment where they feel valued and respected. Elementary teachers are accustomed to showcasing student work and achievements, but middle and high school teachers can benefit from doing this, too. Expressing your shared pride for students’ achievements reminds students that you care about them and their success. When they know that their teachers and peers support their accomplishments, students feel greater pride for their work and are likely to engage more enthusiastically in future assignments. Plus, they are more likely to come to you for input on assignments or support when preparing for assessments in the future.
  5. Connect with students’ families.
    While it’s important to have a direct teacher student relationship to build trust and respect in the classroom, it is equally as important to connect with students’ families to promote an engaged and involved school community. Introducing yourself to students’ parents or guardians can encourage effective communication and can help build more active relationships with students and their families. This also communicates to students that the adults in their lives are eager to support them and hear about their lives and learning, which gives them greater confidence and makes it easier for them to reach out when they need help.

To create an environment where students feel supported, engaged, and motivated to succeed, students need to know they have teachers who care about them. There are many ways to cultivate positive teacher student relationships, but these strategies are a great place to start. In a classroom built on positive relationships, students are more likely to enjoy school, ask for help, and perform well and less likely to have emotional and behavioral challenges.