By Derrick Meador
The best teachers are capable of maximizing the learning potential of each student in their class. They understand that the key to unlocking student potential is by developing positive, respectful relationships with their students beginning on the first day of the school year. Building a trusting relationship with your students can be both challenging and time-consuming. Great teachers become masters at it in time. They will tell you that developing solid relationships with your students is paramount in fostering academic success.
It is essential that you earn your students’ trust early on in the year. A trusting classroom with mutual respect is a thriving classroom complete with active, engaging learning opportunities. Some teachers are more natural at building and sustaining positive relationships with their students than others. However, most teachers can overcome a deficiency in this area by implementing a few simple strategies into their classroom on a daily basis. Here are some strategies to try.
Most kids respond positively to having structure in their classroom. It makes them feel safe and leads to increased learning. Teachers who lack structure not only lose valuable instructional time but often never gain the respect of their students. It is essential that teachers set the tone early by establishing clear expectations and practicing class procedures. It is equally critical that students see that you follow through when boundaries are overstepped. Finally, a structured classroom is one with minimal downtime.
Each day should be loaded with engaging learning activities with little to no downtime.
TEACH WITH ENTHUSIASM AND PASSION
Students will respond positively when a teacher is enthusiastic and passionate about the content she is teaching. Excitement is contagious. When a teacher introduces new content enthusiastically, students will buy in. They will get just as excited as the teacher, thus translating to increased learning. Exuberance will rub off on the students in your classroom when you are passionate about the content you teach. If you are not excited, why should your students be excited?
HAVE A POSITIVE ATTITUDE
Everyone has terrible days including teachers. Everyone goes through personal trials that can be difficult to handle. It is essential that your personal issues do not interfere with your ability to teach. Teachers should approach their class each day with a positive attitude. Positivity is transcending.
If the teacher is positive, the students will generally be positive. No one likes to be around someone who is always negative. Students will in time resent a teacher who is always negative. However, they will run through a wall for a teacher is positive and continuously offering praise.
INCORPORATE HUMOR INTO LESSONS
Teaching and learning should not be boring. Most people love to laugh. Teachers should incorporate humor into their daily lessons. This may involve sharing an appropriate joke related to the content you will be teaching that day. It may be getting into character and donning a silly costume for a lesson. It may be laughing at yourself when you make a silly mistake. Humor comes in several forms and students will respond to it. They will enjoy coming to your class because they love to laugh and learn.
MAKE LEARNING FUN
Learning should be fun and exciting. Nobody wants to spend time in a classroom where lecturing and note-taking are the norms. Students love creative, engaging lessons that grab their attention and allow them to take ownership of the learning process. Students enjoy hands-on, kinesthetic learning activities where they can learn by doing. They are enthusiastic about technology-based lessons that are both active and visual.
USE STUDENT INTERESTS TO YOUR ADVANTAGE
Every student has a passion for something. Teachers should use these interests and passions to their advantage by incorporating them into their lessons. Student surveys are a fantastic way to measure these interests. Once you know what your class is interested in, you have to find creative ways to integrate it into your lessons. Teachers who take the time to do this will see increased participation, higher involvement and an overall increase in learning. Students will appreciate the extra effort you have made to include their interest in the learning process.
INCORPORATE STORY TELLING INTO LESSONS
Everyone loves a compelling story. Stories allow students to make real-life connections to the concepts that they are learning. Telling stories to introduce or reinforce concepts bring those concepts to life. It takes the monotony out of learning rote facts. It keeps students interested in learning. It is especially powerful when you can tell a personal story related to a concept being taught. A good story will allow students to make connections that they may not have made otherwise.
SHOW AN INTEREST IN THEIR LIVES OUTSIDE OF SCHOOL
Your students have lives away from your classroom. Talk to them about their interests and extracurricular activities that they participate in. Take an interest in their interests even if you do not share the same passion. Attend a few ball games or extracurricular activities to show your support. Encourage your students to take their passions and interests and turn them into a career. Finally, be considerate when assigning homework. Think about the extracurricular activities occurring on that particular day and try not to overburden your students.
TREAT THEM WITH RESPECT
Your students will never respect you if you do not respect them. You should never yell, use sarcasm, single a student out, or attempt to embarrass them. Those things will lead to a loss of respect from the entire class. Teachers should handle situations professionally. You should deal with problems individually, in a respectful, yet direct and authoritative manner. Teachers must treat each student the same. You cannot play favorites. The same set of rules must apply to all students. It is also vital that a teacher is fair and consistent when dealing with students.
GO THE EXTRA MILE
Some students need teachers who will go that extra mile to ensure that they are successful. Some teachers provide extra tutoring on their own time before and/or after school for struggling students. They put together extra work packets, communicate with parents more frequently and take a genuine interest in the well-being of the student. Going the extra mile may mean donating clothing, shoes, food or other household goods that a family needs to survive. It may be continuing to work with a student even after he is no longer in your classroom.
It is about recognizing and assisting in meeting student needs inside and outside of the classroom.