Without building relationships with students first, you will never get them to learn. We often think about students based on their academic gain over their year with us, but we need to also think about their social emotional health and how that has grown.
It is impossible to teach students if they don’t know you.
It is impossible for students to take risks when they don’t trust you.
It is impossible for students to grow as learners if they don’t want to work hard for you.
You are their cheerleader. You are their mentor. You are the push they need or the hand to hold.
We know they are more than a test score. Think about all the things you have taught students that aren’t reflected in numbers.
No one grows ever grows up to get a tattoo of their test scores.
What do we do to build relationships with our students?
Talk to them during less structured time.
Gym class, recess, art and just walking down the hall are great opportunities to talk with students about random things that interest them. Make a goal to speak with at least one student each day. Keep track on a class list to make sure you get through everyone.
Sit with students occasionally.
This doesn’t mean giving up your teacher chair, but take a few students out of the classroom to eat lunch with you occasionally and or sit next to a student while they work on math. It works wonders for building relationships. Consider taking 2-4 students to eat lunch with you once a month picnic-style. If lunch doesn’t work, look for times when you can spend a quiet break together.
Use your reading instruction time to gather intelligence.
During guided reading sessions take time to read with a student one on one. There is always time to have a quick chat when the rest of the class is working. What are their interests? What do you have in common?
Have fun with students occasionally.
Your students need to take you seriously because learning is serious work, but sometimes it’s alright to have fun. You’re a role model. Teach them how to play, joke or laugh at yourself when the time is right. Students love the teacher that joins in on the basketball game once and a while or has an inside joke with one student.
Invite students to talk with you.
Sometimes our hectic schedules keep our introverted students silent. These students need a quiet opportunity to be invited to talk. It can be helpful to find a moment in class, a recess break or a transition break just to check in.
Your students will always remember the relationship they built with you. They are not going to remember the bulletin boards or way you taught them about the War of 1812.
Put your energy into building relationships and you’ll benefit throughout the year. How do you build relationships? Leave us a comment below.