Strong classroom management is built on strong student-teacher relationships. Without the foundation of this strong relationship, classroom management can become stressful and the success of your routines and procedures can become less dependable. This week, we’ll focus on strengthening the bond between you and your students to augment classroom management and help your students achieve the best learning outcomes. Here are 7 surefire ways to promote mutual understanding, respect, and care between you and your students.
The course of the day is set by how students are greeted each morning. You can achieve two goals at once when you greet each of your students: strengthening your relationship in the long run, and setting them up for success that day. Personalized greetings help students feel seen and loved. You should always greet a student warmly, by their name, with eye contact and enthusiasm. You could also offer students their choice of morning high fives, hugs, elbow taps, or fist bumps. Make sure to greet students who show up late too; this will help center them in the flow of the day and minimize disruptions.
The push for academic success can often come at the detriment of individual students. You know your students are more than just their test scores or reading levels. If you’re able to show them that they mean more to you than their academic performance, it will strengthen your relationship and help them build intrinsic motivation. Take time to learn about your students’ interests, hobbies, and aspirations. Showing an interest in their personal lives demonstrates that you see them as they are – individuals with unique stories – not as data points.
This tip applies to all relationships: actively listen when students speak. There are a million things going on in a classroom, but if you provide your full attention to a student while they speak, even if just for a few minutes, it will show them that you give the same respect you ask of them. If you’re going to ask them to put their listening ears on during your lessons, be sure to have yours handy for their responses and thoughts.
When offering feedback, ensure it is constructive and delivered with empathy. Focus on growth and improvement rather than solely pointing out mistakes. Compassionate feedback builds trust and encourages a positive student-teacher dynamic. Make sure to point out more than just what the student did right or wrong, instead diving deeper and looking for patterns in their thinking and strategies. This will help you deliver feedback that students will make something of instead of shutting down, being upset, or even lashing out.
Whatever subject or grade level you teach, share your passion for it (even if you have to fake it till you make it). Growing up, I never thought I had a “math brain.” This not only made math hard for me throughout my academic career, but it also sometimes prevented me from teaching math well. Kids pick up on your energy – if you are not enthused about what you’re teaching, they will not be enthused about what they’re learning. Sharing excitement about subject matter, materials, and real-world applications will help create a common ground for genuine connections and keep students engaged in your lessons.
Establish clear, age-appropriate channels for communication between you and your students. Simple check-ins can be done with the whole class; for example, you could do a pulse check with a thumbs up, thumbs in the middle, or thumbs down. Beyond these important touchpoints should be individual check-ins and avenues for students to come to you with their needs. This shows your investment and has the dual effect of alerting you to any potential behaviors your students may have ahead of time.
Acknowledge and celebrate both big and small achievements. Recognize when a student grasps a challenging concept, accomplishes a task, or contributes positively to the class. This is especially true for students who are struggling. Click here for a catalog of celebratory print outs to shine a light on reading and writing success with Footsteps2Brilliance.
It's all about respect
In the end, the foundation of the relationship between you and your students is mutual respect, care, and understanding. Foster a culture of mutual respect in the classroom. Treat students with the same respect you expect from them. This includes respecting their opinions and identities, creating a safe space for self-expression, and acknowledging their individual strengths. With this foundation, your classroom management needs will be minimized, your ability to redirect students will increase, and learning outcomes will soar!
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