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Building Relationships with Students

August 27, 2014

 Precept of the Day


No significant learning occurs without a significant relationship of mutual respect.

Dr. James Comer

The master teacher is deliberate in establishing a functioning learning community by devoting time and energy to building relationships. The relationship between the teacher and the student is perhaps the most significant piece of the learning equation, followed closely by the relationships among students. Master teachers use activities on the first day of school that initiate this process and persist throughout the school year to continue to develop and maintain positive individual and group dynamics. While getting-to-know-you activities begin the process of forming positive relationships, team-builders continue the process and are used throughout the school year. (Carpenter, Fontanini, & Neiman, p. 80, 2010)

I have trouble convincing my pre-service teachers of this. They are so overwhelmed by the body of curricular content that they are responsible for teaching that they feel an immediate need to start teaching math on the first day. The truth is the time spent on building relationships during the first days and then revisited throughout the school year will provide a huge payout in the time saved on behavioral issues. You have to take the time now to save time later.Building Relationships in the Classroom

Five Ways to Build Relationships During the First Days of School

  1. Meet/Greet students at the door and get to know students’ names
    • Get your class lists and rehearse
    • Check last year’s yearbook for pictures
    • Use name tags, name tents, or desk plates. Have students decorate these with three of their favorite things.
    • Use a photo seating chart. (Great to have for substitutes too.)
    • Use activities to learn student names. Circle of Names: Direct students to sit or stand in a circle. Ask them to think of an adjective that describes them and starts with the first letter of their name. Provide a word bank of adjectives for each letter of the alphabet. Start by modeling. For example, if your name starts with an L, you could pick the word lucky, Lucky Linda. Have the first student share his or her first name and adjective. Move around the circle. Ask each student to share and repeat those before him/her. You will go last and repeat all the students’ names.
  2. Let students get to know you.
    • Have an engaging and creative way to introduce yourself to students as a real person. Create a PowerPoint, Prezi, or a movie trailer with pictures of you and your family enjoying your interests and hobbies.
  3. Provide opportunities for students to get to know each other.
    • Let students share their information like you did. They could create a PowerPoint, Prezi, movie trailer or a collage. There are a variety of get-to-know activities where students interview, interact, and share information. I have collected a variety of resources on my Get to Know Teacher and Student Pinterest Board. A great resource is Scholastic.
  4. Find out students’ interests. It’s easy. Ask them.
    • Have students complete a survey. You could easily do it in the classroom or  online with Survey Monkey or Google Forms. More Scholastic Printables.
  5. Have clear plans and procedures.
    • Procedures are the daily routines of the classroom and they being on the first day.
    • Have something for students to do as soon as they walk in on the first day and every day. Post it on the overhead or Smart board. Actively engaging students in their classroom is a powerful way to prevent problems and build community. Have students decorate name tents or name tags and be ready to share with a classmate.

Have a good school year with your students!


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