As the end of the school year is approaching, I am saying good-bye to some great 8th grade students. This group of students I have seen then grow up since they were in the 3rd grade, and now they are about to embark in a journey through high school. I will truly miss them.
I was thinking over the weekend, that every year around this time of the year is tough for me, because I built a relationship with my students. I tried very hard to get to know each of my students even though I only see them one day a week, I build in time to talk and build relationships with them in my class.
Being an impactful teacher is all about building relationships. Students respond better to teachers they know want to know them. I think the work that I put in building these relationships helps in the long run.
Here are some ideas that you can do to help build impactful relationships with your students:
- Have a Class Meeting: By having a class meeting at least once or twice a month you are letting your students share some concerns, problems, or some good things that are going on in their life or in the classroom.
- Tell stories about yourself: I often tell stories about myself. I let them know of the things I did when I was their age so they know I am human. I want to them to know me, and where I come from so they have an idea of what kind of teacher I tend to be.
- Have a safe environment to learn: For students and teachers to work together the classroom has to be a safe place. My students know that I shut down any negative talk towards a student, or situation. I want my students to feel that my classroom is safe place they can express themselves without the worry of criticisms of their ideas, or beliefs.
- Have one-on-one conversations: What I like to do is have one-on-one conversations with my students. Sometimes I sit with a student or a small group of students and just talk. I ask questions about their projects, what they know about the project before they started, and what they did to gain that prior knowledge. Generally that last part leads to them talking about their home life, or some vacation they went on.
- Eat lunch together: Sometimes I invite my students to eat lunch in my classroom to just chat. We generally talk about music, books, sports, movies, computer games, phone apps, and future plans. I like these times. During football or baseball seasons some of my students are avid fans so we talk about our favorite sport teams. We generally have a really good time.
- Attend school events: I try to go to some of my students’ school functions when I can. My students know I have a large family and its hard to get to everything my own kids are in all the time. But if I can’t make it I invite them to tell me about it. I try hard to show an interest in their hard work.
- Share social media: I know teachers and students talking over social media can be looked badly upon. I keep a class Facebook for my students to participate on. I also have a twitter they can contact me or share things with me. I place limits on things like their parents must know we are being friends on social media, and I do not accept any private messages from students. Some school districts don’t let teachers and students talk over social media, so I would suggest you make sure you know what your district rules are.
Overall, most teachers are probably doing everything that I suggested above. Teachers know that education is all about relationships. I hope that you are building relationships with your students. I know for me it is easy to do. My students have a desire to talk to people they think are on their same level based on their intelligence. Gifted students like to talk to adults. So we talk….a lot.
What are you doing to build relationships with your students?