As a society our mental health is in a steady decline, leaving many teachers wondering how to build student relationships with their students. Teen suicide rates have spiked 56% in the last decade according to Healthline. Between this dire social emotional need to have healthy relationships, feel support, and so much more- relationships with students are the only thing that will get them to work harder on their education.
Teaching kids who are already struggling to read or write can take its toll emotionally. It often doesn't matter if you are using exciting and creative games, activities, and personalized instruction, once the damage to desire to learn is gone, it's gone. Many kids who hate reading or writing, will continue to hate it even when you bring in all the stops to get them on board. They don't have the interest and ost likely have too much going on at home to care.
The stubborn student makes up their mind to hate your class before they even walk in. How can you possibly work with and help them? The answer is easy, it's about the relationships you build with them. Regardless of the age of the student or the type of class you teach, the only way to reach a stubborn student who hates your subject, is to get them to love you. This will also open the doors to them confiding in you, and you being able to get them emotional help if needed.
How to Build Student Relationships With Your Students
There are a ton of ways to build relationships with your students in the classroom. Begin by talking about yourself. Let your students see you as a person, not just a teacher. Be open and receive the same in return. Kids know when you're being real with them. Next, give them the opportunity to talk to you about them, as a person, not just a student.
Let Students Talk to You and Others
Many teachers hold "discussion" sessions on free topics. Students get to talk about anything they want for five to ten minutes, sharing what they did over the weekend, or their holiday plans, or what they are excited about. Allowing students to open up in the classroom will allow them to relax and be susceptible to your totally awesome lesson! This can also be accomplished by five to ten minutes of free journal writing time.
Build Student Relationships by Being Present
Talking is not the only way to build relationships with students. Greeting kids as they get to school, walk into your classroom or when they are walking down the hallway is another great tool for building relationships. Even though you are busy worrying about getting grades in, or another student who is out sick again, keep your eyes open and say hello when ever you see kids around you.
Show Students You SEE Them
Making a student feel seen can be everything to them in a day. See them. Stop, ask how they are, and listen. Respond with genuine care to the response. Bring up things specific to them, ask how their little brother is doing, their grandma, how the game went. It's the little things that you remember about them that shows your students how much your truly care. As students are working independently in your class, you can walk around and quietly have one on one conversations both checking in on them as a person AND to see if they need support with the activity.
Once you have built up a little trust between you and the students, you can start to push the educational material that they so desperately need. For the creative thinker, or the reluctant reader, let them write their own story. Many kids argue that books are "boring" so challenge them to write a story that is not "boring".