4 easy ways to form positive relationships with students

By Josh Stumpenhorst
June 9th, 2015

Effective teaching includes building strong student-teacher relationships

[Ed. note: This article is excerpted from “The New Teacher Revolution” by Josh Stumpenhorst, reproduced here courtesy of Corwin. Stumpenhorst will deliver the closing keynote at ISTE 2015 on Wed. July 1]

student-relationshipsBuilding relationships with students is probably the single most impor­tant thing we do as teachers. There is nothing more important than getting to know your student, and I often say you have to know the kid before you can teach the student.

Having a relationship with a student and having mutual respect does not mean being best friends. It also doesn’t mean being the favorite teacher or being obsessed with students liking you. There are a lot of ways you can go about building a relationship; however, it must be clear that simply hav­ing a positive relationship with a student will not make all misbehaviors disappear. It has the potential to greatly diminish them, but there are times where you will need to bring in a colleague or an administrator to support you in extreme cases of student misbehavior. Here are four easy ways to form positive relationships with students.

1. Say “Hello”

The easiest and simplest way is to simply say hello. This may sound ridiculous and too simplistic to be effective. However, I will tell you that simply greeting every single student every single day will go very far in building a relationship. There are children in our schools who can go an entire school day without a single individual speaking to them. You may think I am lying or making that up, but that is the sad reality for some of our students. They are the quiet students and the forgotten ones. They go through their entire school day without anybody engaging in a conversation with them because they’re quiet and meek and just do their work and don’t cause any problems. It can be something as simple as standing at the door of your classroom and saying “Good morning” as every kid comes in.

Next page: Meeting kids where they are