Personal Relationship Building – Skilful Teacher Chapter 13


A summary by Ms Monica Suan

How do I build good personal relationships with students and make them feel truly known and valued? Why good personal relations connect to student achievements.  Here are SIX key teacher traits

Rapport 2_Engage the students first

A good teacher teaches the mind through the heart……

Educational research suggests that there is a strong association between student-teacher relationships and student retention, achievement, and aspirations.  In other words, when teachers have regard and respect for students and vice-versa, learning proceeds better.

A positive teacher-students relationship impact the climate and management of a classroom.   A teacher who invests in time and energy in building relationships with her students signals to them that they are respected and valued as worthwhile individuals, which most often results in students’ liking and respecting their teacher. In turn, students perform much better in environments where they feel comfortable and valued.  They will participate and contribute positively to the classroom climate and will be less likely to become discipline problems.   Positive relationships contribute to a climate where greater energy available for – and devoted to – learning.

A strong positive relationship is to say to a student. “I value you and I care.”

Six key teacher traits for a positive teacher-students relationship

When students are interviewed about relationship with teachers, there is a cluster of teacher traits that students repeatedly mention as important.

Trait One – Acknowledging

Acknowledging students as persons and show they are valued thereby relaying to them a message of hope…..

There are several ways to make students feel noticed and acknowledged, most importantly, valued.

  1. Greet the students you teach by their names as they walk past you along the corridors or even in the canteen.
  2. Ask about their health after they come back from a medical absence.
  3. Tell them you notice they have a new haircut.
  4. Make eye contact with them during lesson.
  5. Thank them by their name after they volunteered an answer in class.
  6. Notice when they are not participating in class and encouraging them to try.
  7. Notice a student has a confused look on his face and walk forward and quietly ask if she needs help.

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Trait Two – Communicating Value

  • Showing interest
    • Know their names and use them when addressing them in and out of the class.
    • Listen carefully and actively learn about their concerns and fears.
    • Ask about their strengths and interests.
    • Find out about their daily schedule in and out of school.
    • Know about their responsibilities outside of school.
    • Ask about their day.
    • Inquire about them if they have been ill.
    • Teachers can made students feel important by
      • Connecting academic work to their interests.
      • Using their names in instructional examples.
      • Asking about what is bothering them when they look sad.
  • Teachers can show interest in them as a learner
    • Gather data from them about the types of learners they are and use that to help them learn better or more about themselves as learners.
    • Find out about their positive and negative experiences in school or a particular subject area.
    • Find out what they already know or have experienced in relation to a topic or skill.
    • Getting feedback from them about what supports their learning, what hinders it and responding to their responses.
    • Showing interest in the material taught and presenting it with passion and enthusiasm to the students.
    • Making connections to their world so that they see reasons why the material is worth learning.
  • Active Listening
  • “She listens to me.” say the students about teachers they like and respect…..
  • Students like teachers who are willing to listen and really hear what they have to say.

Listening with focus means

  1. Listening attentively and without interruption.
  2. Acknowledging (both verbally and non verbally) what is being said.
  3. Inquiring for details rather than make assumptions when information is vague or unclear.
  4. Checking understanding by paraphrasing or summarizing to ensure you heard accurately.
  5. Posing reflective questions that invites further thinking or exploration of a topic of interest or concern to a student.

Listening with empathy means

  1. listening in a way that enables us to understand both the content of what the speaker is saying and the feelings that accompany the content.
  2. communicating concern for the students’ personal feeling states and desire to understand. It makes the child feel understood and cared about.
  • High expectations and persistence

The students need to see that the teacher regards them as a worthwhile person who is important enough for the teacher to take time and effort to push them and persist with them to meet the high expectations set for them by the teacher.

High expectations are set for

  • Academic performance
  • Work habits
  • Interpersonal behavior
  • Active participant in class
  • Punctuality
  • Taking responsibility
  • Assuming leadership roles

Persistence is when we ‘chase’ the students who are not meeting our expectations. Our persistence signals our conviction that they can do it and we won’t give up on them.

Examples of how we portray ‘Persistence’

  1. Finding that student in the halls and reminding him that he needs to see you.
  2. Make extra time to tutor a student, or even to ensure he gets the work done.
  3. Sticking with a student and explaining until he gets it.
  4.  Finding three more ways to explain something to that student when the first three didn’t work.
  5. Wake up calls to a student who is chronically late for school.
  • Re- establishing Contact

Re-establish contact after a strong reprimand session by interacting with a positive personal way to the student. This is to show that the teacher is not carrying a grudge and to remove tension between teacher and student so that there is an emotional entry back to the flow of activities.

  • Being accessible

Make time available for students outside of class time for extra academic help

Trait Three – Respect

How students define respect

  • Treat us as valued and capable human beings.
  • Give us chance to express our opinions and views without being put down.
  • Involve us in decisions that will directly affect us.
  • Speak to us with the same courtesy and respect you want from us.
  • Treat each of us as capable of challenging work.
  • Treat us as individuals and care about what’s going on for us.
  • Appreciate our differences and individuals styles.
  • Treat our work and products we produce with care.
  • Don’t compare us to other students.
  • Discipline us privately when the need arises.
  • Respond to misbehavior at the individual level rather than hold the whole class responsible for the actions of one student or a small group.
  • Correct our mistakes without using put downs, making us feel dumb or shaming us.
  • Present ideas or activities in ways we can relate to.
  • Give us feedback on our work that shows you really examine it.
  • Give us feedback that we can use to improve our performance.
  • Return our assignments on a timely manner.
  • When we tell you things in private, keep them private.
  • When we take risks, support us and protect our right to fail.
  • Inspire us as a role model of what you expect from us.

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Trait Four – Fairness

Teachers who win students’ trust and respect are the ones who perceived as fair.

What is ‘fair’?

  • Let us know the criteria for assessing our work.
  • Grade us fairly.
  • Create reasonable rules, apply them consistently and fairly and be flexible.
  • Don’t play favourites.
  • Don’t favour those you think will do best.
  • Don’t make assumptions. Ask questions.
  • When there is conflicts between two students, make sure you hear both sides before delivering consequences.
  • Let us know when you are displease with us, don’t just explode suddenly at someone.
  • Warn us first, at least twice or three times before impose the consequences.

Trait Five – Realness

Students want teachers who are willing to talk about their own lives and personal lives and experiences.

Sharing anecdotes from our own lives and integrating appropriate personal experiences into explanations and presentations enable students to know us as people.

Use ‘I’ message to let students see teachers as a person with feelings when addressing disruptive behavior. Children have no idea their behavior was affecting their teachers adversely.

Trait Six – Humor and fun

Humor is a form of caring.  Teachers need not be comedians but those who respond openly to humorous moments or those who can joke with students seem to strike particularly responsive chords.

Students like teachers who are happy, tell funny stories, can laugh at themselves, laugh when something genuinely humorous happens in class. In other words, they know how to have fun and can enjoy doing that with them.Rapport 2_Engage the students first