We all know how important it is to build relationships. I want to share with you six basic and easy steps I take with students to help build a relationship, that will help me help the student down the road.
Greet Your Students
Everyday, make an effort to step out of your classroom and say hello to each student. This could be a simple “hi” or a complex handshake. I like to stand in the busiest corner in my school, and say “good morning!” to as many students as possible. I also usually try to stop at least one student and talk about what happened last night at home. This simple act then helps me work with students in the classroom. When I walk into a classroom at least one student will turn and smile or give me a small wave. Most of you are likely classroom teachers and need to stay close to the door to handle classroom issues, but at least make yourself available to students. This could be a students first positive interaction today, and you now have at least started the road to a respectful relationship.
Share Something Special About You
Remind students you are a real person too. This may seem simple, but sometimes we forget with all the pressure of meeting standards, and tracking assessment data. At the beginning of a year I like to bring a couple items from home and share what I do outside of a classroom. I share things like vacation photos, my softball jersey, and a flamingo sun-catcher. I also give students my education history, going from K to the current status. After I share I give students a chance to ask me questions, and just about anything is okay. Once I have shared and all the questions are out of the way, I ask students to think and share.
Learn About Your Students
Students heard my story. I ask them the first day to draw a picture that would represent them. At the end of the period I ask students to put together their story and be ready to share with me, and, or the class on Friday. (We usually start on a Tuesday.) On Friday students have the opportunity to talk to the whole class about themselves, or if they are a little more reserved we have a quiet conversation while others are working on assignments. Throughout the year I try to talk to the student about one or two of the things they shared about themselves. It may be the middle of the year and you don’t have time to spend letting students create and share. Don't let that stop you from getting to know your students. Start asking students to share with you something that you don’t know about them when you are greeting them at the door. When you can recall something special about a student the trust and respect between you and that student grows quickly.
Listen to Your Students
I recall a great teacher in my early years teaching me this lesson. She would always greet each student individually and we were expected to start on our morning work. She would then move to behind her desk and take attendance and attend to other morning duties. She told us that she loved to hear from us each day, but if she was not looking at you she was not really listening. Many years later I was in the same boat I needed to take attendance and collect field trip money, when a student came up to tell me a story. I did not stop what I was doing and look at that student. I kept working and counting money. I replied at some point “oh that’s nice, glad you had a great weekend.” I then heard a sniffle. Turned and found a student in tears next to me. I was not listening. I had no idea that student had just shared that their pet had died. I killed that relationship, because I was worried about field trip money, and not the student. When a student wants to talk to you actually listen. Stop what you are doing look at them and listen, you could be the only person they tell.
Go to After School Events
Simple go to games, dances, concerts, or any other activity students may be doing after school. Students love to look in the crowd and see at least one familiar face. The next day at school you can talk to that student about their activity! You learned maybe something new about this student.
Talk to Students with Respect
You have learned several ways to build a relationship up to this point, but if your communication with a student is not respectful the relationship could be over. Let's face it at some point students can make us feel frustrated. In these moments take a thoughtful pause before reacting. Then talk to the student about why you are frustrated with their behavior. This communication with a student could be the difference between a classroom consequence, and an office referral. Try not to push a students button, and try not to let them push yours.
The relationship piece is important to managing your classroom, and can help your students achieve more. Remember these are just a few ways to build relationship, try one and see if you notice the difference it makes in you lessons, or classroom environment.
Today's thoughts come to us from Ms. Ashley Garrad. Ashley is an instructional coach at Test Intermediate School. She graduated in 2008 from Ball State University, and began teaching that fall. In 2010 she began teaching for Richmond Community Schools. She has spent most of her time in the classroom with a focus on Math and Science in the 5th grade. Ashley has a passion for STEM, but know the importance of all areas working together to help our students find a personal passion. Ashley is currently attending Ball State and working on completing her Principal’s license. She believes education should be fluid and constantly adjusting to the demands of our economy and society. She believes we should be working with students to build passions, and create problem solvers. Ashley is married with one daughter and one dog. In her free time Ashley loves boating, swimming, and doing any activity in the sun.