Building relationships is proven to increase student’s academic achievement levels.
That my friends, is Harper’s bed frame that she wrote on with Sharpie, as in permanent and forever until she goes away to college, Sharpie!!
I know exactly why she did this. We built a mutual relationship and it wasn’t because I had the best themed classroom or beautiful bulletin boards, it was because we had a connection.
She knew I loved her and believed in her.
Harper knew I respected her and wanted her to grow socially, emotionally, and academically under my care. It was because of how I made her and each of her classmates feel.
Recently I have been deep into reading and learning everything Growth Mindset. Carol Dweck’s years of research confirms everything I have always believed to be true about our students. Every single one of them has the ability to grow and be successful no matter where they come to us. They have the power to do so with our guidance and support.
In all my years of teaching, the one thing I know for sure is if you want to build a growth-oriented classroom, it’s imperative that you spend time building relationships with your students. Our students with a fixed mindset are fearful of and anxious about appearing stupid in front of teachers and classmates. They want everyone to know how smart they are at all times, which is why they tend to avoid challenges at which they may fail.
So how do we do it?
How do we get every child to know we value them, believe in them and only want them to be successful in everything they do?
Below are ideas paraphrased from the book The Growth Mindset Coach by Annie Brock and Heather Hundley.
5 Tips for Effective Relationship Building
Students must know that the teacher has faith in their ability to achieve.
If we expect our students to have faith in themselves to grow, they must sense that we genuinely, and enthusiastically believe in them too. They need reminders DAILY that you believe in their ability.
Students seek and embrace the teacher’s feedback.
When students believe that you have their best interests at heart they’ll respond to feedback in more productive ways. Make it clear to students that their growth is your main priority, and let them know that the purpose of constructive feedback is to help them improve.
Students know that grades are less important than growth.
Help students set goals for themselves. Let them know that grading is part of the process and a source of data about their overall performance, but the most important thing to you is their progression toward the goals that you’ve set together. Keep an open dialogue about overcoming challenges and obstacles, and while grades should matter to you, the letter grade, in itself, should never hold more value than the progress it indicates.
Students feel safe with their teacher.
Students respect and like their teacher as a person.
Build deeper relationships with your students and take personal interest in their lives and well-being. Take time to get to know your students’ out-of-school interests. The more information you have about each of your students, the deeper you can build your relationships and better tailor a learning experience most beneficial to them. Likewise, share appropriate personal information with your students to forge a deeper mutual relationship.
Getting to Know Students
Simple ways to get to know your students and make them feel valued:
Make eye contact.
Be intentional and engage with students who you’re speaking with. The two minute check-in. Before school, after school, and during breaks make it your goal to engage students in non-school-related topics of conversation. This strategy will help you learn more about your students’ interest, build trusting relationships, improve classroom management, and curb attention-seeking behaviors.
Find common ground.
Take time at the beginning of the year to find things you have in common with your students on a personal level. At the beginning of the year, I ask my student’s parents to write me a letter about their child. I find out so much VALUABLE information from the letters that I can use build up my students.
For example, after learning through *Jack’s letter (my extremely nervous and shy friend) that he was a technology guru at home, Jack became my IT specialist…my students knew Jack could fix anything, he was needed an asset. Jack knew he was of value, he stood taller and his shyness dissipated.
|You can access this editable resource HERE|
(one-on-one or a small group) a great way to get to know your students on a personal level and build rapport.
Meet them at the door.
Try to personally greet each of your students as they come through your classroom door each day.
Getting to know you activities.
Take time out especially at the beginning of the year to engage students in activities focused on helping everyone to get to know each other better. Foster relationship building between classmates, check out these ideas from my friend Marie.
The Golden Rule.