Written by Danielle Rivera, TS cofounder & Educator
Rapport. What do you think about when you hear this word? To me, this word is the key to being a successful teacher. A teacher who builds a safe environment in the classroom. One who connects with his or her students. A teacher who truly cares about getting to know each child that fills the room. And, someone who has created a respectful, trusting relationship.
I believe the most challenging students are never reached when a positive rapport is absent. Without a positive rapport, students may not reach their full potential. Because without a positive rapport they just may not feel completely free to ask a question without judgment, make a mistake without embarrassment, or take a risk and try something that is challenging for fear of failing in front of others.
You see, without a positive rapport, everything else is impacted as well.
However, when you’ve developed positive rapport, you and your students understand one another and are able to communicate openly and easily. And, students often want to be part of the classroom community and aren’t afraid to try something that’s new and challenging. When a teacher has created a positive rapport with students, even the most challenging ones transform.
Often times, we get so wrapped up with all of the other things on our plates – grading papers, planning our lessons, managing due dates and deadlines of testing, it’s easy to lose sight of what matters the most – building positive and trusting relationships with students. As you reflect on the rapport you have with your students, consider these ten tips for developing a positive, trusting relationship with your own students. Download poster.
5 Tips for Developing Positive Rapport
1. Smile big and smile often.
From Day 1, don’t hold back. When students see their teacher smile, it makes a difference. A simple smile can ease tensions and anxiety, and bring a little sunshine into a child’s world. Smiles really are contagious.
2. Show Don’t Tell.
Actions speak louder than words. Instead of praising students all the time with general phrases like “good job” “you’re so smart”, show them that you feel this way. This might look like asking them questions about how they solved a challenging problem, having lunch bunch, or talking to them about their lives outside of school. It could also be participating in a soccer game or walking the track with them during recess. Show your students you’re interested in them as a person.
3. Listen without Judgment.
Sometimes, students just want and need to be heard. Heard without judgment. Students need to know that you are always there for them and that they can come to you if they just need a listening ear. Students are smart, so make sure you’re sincere when you tell them this – and follow through.
4. Talk With Not At.
Wah wah wah wah wah….don’t be the “Charlie Brown” teacher. If you’re always talking at students instead of with them, chances are you’re missing out on the things they want you to know. One way to get this started (especially for your shy students) is to start a two-way dialogue journal.
5. You’re Only Human.
You’re only human, so let your students know it. Creating connections with them is important and so is knowing you have things in common – even if the things in common are making mistakes. Sometimes, especially with the younger students, they think their teachers make no mistakes. Never, I repeat, NEVER let your students think you are perfect. Let them know that you make mistakes, too and that it’s part of learning and growing.
In the end, by establishing a positive rapport with the students who fill your classroom, it will make all the difference in the world. And, although there will still be hiccups along the way, there will also be open communication in a safe and trusting environment, which will impact your students in a positive way.
Download these motivational thumbnail cards for words of encouragement and motivation.