Let’s talk student connections… shall we?
Tell me… when you think back to your time in school, what stands out to you? You may say a certain class or a certain subject, but many times it comes back to a teacher (or more than one!). A teacher who saw you, made you feel special or taught you in a unique way. Teachers are generally what we remember most when we think about what we loved about school – they are where positive student connections take place.
Why? Because teachers are the ones who take the subject matter and make it meaningful – no textbook can do that. Teachers are the ones that help, guide and care. Teachers are the human connection inside the world of learning.
So, to say that building positive connections between students and their teacher is important – might just be an understatement. But… how do we do it?
Simple Ways to Build Positive Student Connections:
Building relationships with students should be our first (and most important) objective when welcoming them into our classrooms. It doesn’t have to be difficult, but it does take time.
So, when starting from zero – the best way to grow relationships organically is just to sit down next to students and play with them. During play you can observe a lot. You can listen. You can talk. You can ask questions. Through play (an activity that comes very natural to children and feels comfortable) you can start forming the connections.
While playing with children is the best way to form connections, there are many other things you can do to continue to grow and nurture student relationships:
- Provide parents with a survey about their child so that you can get likes and dislikes right up front.
- Make a point to learn sibling names and other important family members in each child’s life (even pets).
- Be present. When children come to you, even for something small- see them and respond positively.
- Greet students by name every morning and invite them into the classroom.
- Have conversations about likes and dislikes over lunch.
- Hang up student work to show students that you think their work is valuable.
- Give compliments often. Try moving past ‘good job’ and praise their amazing qualities.
- Play board games together. Nothing brings people together better than games.
- Play on the playground with children.
- Be playful and silly – channel your inner preschooler.
- Give hugs, high-fives and smiles.
- Tell a child how much you missed them when they miss some time at school.
- Send home positive notes about each child.
- Make a habit of telling students what you love about them.
- Speak kindly to students. We all have rough days and they are just 3 and 4 after all!
Relationships that grow organically are the ones that really matter. Some relationships may come easy. Some of them might feel like you are building them throughout the whole entire year… and that’s okay! Because getting to know kids for who they are, the way God made them and the amazing little beings that they are, make all the time spent so totally worth it.
And … sidenote, those same relationships will also result in less defiant behaviors. Why? Because they will trust you and know you love them. They will feel that level of caring and they will not want to let you down. I call that a win-win!
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