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  • Writer's pictureMountain Village Foundation

How to Build A Positive Student-Teacher Relationship

“Great teachers focus not on compliance but on connections and relationships.” - PJ Caposey

One of the best memories that most people have are of their school days. For some, it could be because of the friendships they formed, for others the opportunities they got and for still some others it could be the teachers they met who transformed their lives.

When you ask someone about their favourite teacher, they are most likely to think of a teacher who was kind and caring. This quote clarifies why it is so, “people will forget what you did, people will forget what you said but they will never forget how you made them feel.” Most people think of those teachers as being “best teachers” if they have felt genuinely cared for by them and loved and accepted for who they are.

Why do you think this is so? It seems pretty obvious but when you are in the company of people who are friendly, kind and caring, it is easy to share with them the challenges you could be facing. It becomes easier to work together to find ways to overcome these challenges with someone who is approachable. Don’t you also look for the same qualities in your friends because these are the ones who will uplift and empower you?

This is the reason why it is important for a teacher to build a friendly and supportive teacher-student relationship. It is not an easy prospect as every child has different needs and has a different personality. Yet the onus is on a teacher to find middle-ground so every child in their care feels safe and connected.

At MVF teachers believe in building genuine relationships with students. Hence, the focus remains on creating a space that ensures students feel at ease when interacting with teachers. More importantly we ensure students do not feel any pressure to be other than who they really are.

Here are a few ways in which you, as a teacher can build a healthy and positive relationship with your students:

  • Get to know your students

  • Take time out for your students

  • Build a relationship with the students’ ecosystem

  • Involve students in their learning

  • Help students to understand their strengths

Get to know your students

Robert John Meehan says, “ it’s a little conversation that builds the relationship and makes an impact on each student”. So take inspiration and speak to the students every day about their daily routine, their highs and lows of the day or anything else they would like to talk about. If you’re wondering how to strike an informal conversation with your students, you can ask simple questions like - How are you? How was your day? What did you enjoy today? Students really like it when you get to know them and it also indicates your concern and care for them.

Take out time for your students

One of the best things a teacher can do is spend a little time with students after class hours, to understand their interests, play their favourite game or participate in their hobbies. This makes a child feel appreciated and helps the teacher design learning material or classroom experiences aligned to what they might like and enjoy. This is a simple and powerful way to not just make class-room content interesting, but also helps students to understand that they matter.

Build a relationship with the child’s ecosystem

It’s said that “it takes a village to raise a child.” Keeping this at the centre, you as a teacher can ensure that you are aware of your students’ reality at home and can share a positive and family like bond with the parents of the students. Celebrating festivals with everyone and addressing the students’ parents as “didi” and “bhaiya” (respectfully addressing them as older sister and brother) helps to build a better relationship.

Involve students in their learning

You can involve children in their own learning by ensuring that they too have a voice. If at regular intervals you conduct sessions where students come together to evaluate the programme and share what they find interesting and what they would like to change is extremely important. This allows for students to know that their voices are heard and makes learning a two way process and increases their class-room participation.

Help students to understand their strengths

Every student can learn, just not on the same day or in the same way.” - George Evans. Every child has his or her strengths which makes each child unique. As an educator, it is your responsibility to create learning experiences where students can understand their strengths and learn how to use them to achieve their goals. This allows for children to also realise that the teacher cares about their development and knows them closely. As a student, wouldn’t you have liked your teacher to point out your special skills or a talent that sets you apart?

So far we have shared ideas on how to build meaningful relationships with students that positively impacts their learning and development. The key however lies in this quote by Jonathan Anthony Burkett, “The best foundation for relationships to grow, flourish and succeed is a deep-rooted friendship.” Therefore, being a friend to the students can help a teacher to have a positive impact on them.

Here are a few more interesting ideas on ways in which teachers/educators can build a friendly and student supportive environment.

  • Include humor during the class

  • Incorporate storytelling keeping their interests in mind

  • Treat students with respect

  • Go the extra mile to help a student in need

  • Be Yourself

If you’re a teacher or an educator looking to create a long term positive impact on your students’ learning and development, then start building a strong relationship with your students. As James Comer says, “no significant learning occurs without a significant relationship.”

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