Teaching Requires Relationships

Whether you’re a coach or teacher, one thing is certain. Students will never trust you until you’ve first proven yourself to be trustworthy. It requires time, emotional energy, and transparency. To reach them, are you willing to first build a relationship?

via Ilmicrofono Oggiono @ Flickr Creative Commons

via Ilmicrofono Oggiono @ Flickr Creative Commons

I see former students all the time. They’re the ones who are selling me loads of wood for my stove, cutting my hair, and working as nurse practitioners at the doctor’s office. But do you know what they remember the most about me? Here’s a hint…it wasn’t the stuff I taught them out of the curriculum.

They remember the conversation I had with them during lunch detention.

They remember the time I could have suspended them, but didn’t.

They remember the fun activities we did as a class.

They remember me dancing to M.C. Hammer’s “Can’t Touch This” on a college video which I shared at the end of the school year. (No, you can’t see it).

The old adage still remains true. “Before people care how much you know, they have to know how much you care.” Do your students know this about you? What would they say?

While you don’t have to be their best friend, you do need to be able to relate to them. Here’s why…

Reasons to forge relationships with your students:

1. It makes work more fun. It’s true! They will definitely keep you laughing.

2. It gives you more energy. They have so much excitement and energy that they are simply contagious.

3. Communication moves from vertical to horizontal. Kids are used to being talked down to. They’re not so used to someone getting on their level, maybe even talking to them about things that really are of particular relevance in their own world.

How can you forge relationships with your students?

1) Quit viewing students as they ARE and begin viewing them as they COULD BE. If you could treat every student like your best student, you could give them the very confidence they need to improve themselves.

2) Move from rules to relationships. While all students need boundaries, at times, rules can be a cop-out and only make things easy for the educator. Don’t forget that you’re dealing with a real person. Rules were made for people, not vice versa.

3) Be honest about your own faults. Nothing lets a student know that it’s safe to trust you than sharing your own fault at the proper time. No one thinks you’re perfect, especially your own students. Feel free to open up when it’s appropriate.

After spending over a decade in education, from PK to 12th grade, it’s a great pleasure for me to run into my students out in public and on social media. The bond that you forge with your students will truly be life-long and greatly rewarding.

QUESTION: What unique things do you do each year to build that relationship with your students? Leave your ideas in the comments section and let’s learn from each other!

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