The first few weeks are behind you, tests and papers are being written, the ‘mark’ pile is growing and the back-to-school buzz may be wearing off. As your days get busier and deadlines quickly approach you may feel discouraged with some of your interactions with students. Perhaps you feel that you haven’t built the relationship you want with a select group of students? We all understand this frustration; building student rapport is the reason many pursue education as a career in the first place. As inspiration, try implementing some of the following ideas into your daily routine.
Always seek out the good
There will always be students who pull your attention and energy away from the rest of the class. At times this will undoubtedly be frustrating, but the challenge is to not focus on the negative. By seeking out and focussing on the good, you will create a better experience for your classroom as well as for the student as well.
When a pleasant interaction is had, consider contacting the student’s parents simply to let them know. This can lead to positive reinforcement at home and reaffirm their good work, making them more likely to repeat in the future.
Hangout in the hall
Stand in the hallway in between classes. You’ll have the opportunity to chitchat with students who you wouldn’t regularly get to. You will also be able to greet those who are attending your class at the door, developing more of an interpersonal relationship.
Attend their events
Students will be thrilled if they see you in the stands supporting one of their extracurricular activities. This can be anything from sports to band recitals to theater productions. Not only will they feel supported, you also have a conversation topic for the next time you see them.
Feel like taking this the next step further? If there’s an extracurricular activity happening at your school that you feel yourself taking interest in, volunteer to the organizing teacher as someone who would like to help out.
Open your room
Staying in your class to catch up on work during breaks? Create an open door policy for any student who wants to use your classroom as workspace as well. Not only will there be more opportunity for social interaction, but your students will see you as a laid back and relaxed educator to be around.
If you spend a semester or more with the same students you will watch them grow before your eyes. Though it’s important to celebrate them at the highs of their school career, it is equally if not more vital to provide empathy in low times. This may be events at home, frustrations on grades or even struggling relationships with their peers. Providing a sense of understanding and encouragement through good times and bad is perhaps the best possible way to build a foundation of trust.
In times of discouragement, remind yourself that building student rapport takes time. Rather than pressuring yourself and forcefully engaging with every student, let a connection build naturally to avoid it feeling rushed and inauthentic. Position yourself as a teacher who genuinely cares and enjoy the intrinsic rewards of meaningful connection.