How to Build a Positive Relationship with your Students

What teacher do you remember the most?   What was it about him/her that makes them memorable?

I have a list of teachers that connected and built a respectful relationship with me that inspired me to be better than myself.  Thank you…

Mrs. Durham

Mrs. Dowd

Mrs. Green

Ms. Wasinger

Mr. Graham

Mr. Fox

Mrs. Comstock

Coach Carroll (both of you)

Each one of these teachers connected with me, pushed me to be better, held me at high standards, called me out when I made the wrong choice, and they took the time to get to know me.

Build– verb. Construct by putting parts together over a period of time

Positive– adj. – Characterized by the presence of features    noun- a good, affirmative, or constructive quality

Relationship – noun- the way in which 2 or more people are connected

Here are 5 ways that can help you create a positive relationship with your students.

  1. Interviews, Surveys, Questionnaires-  At the beginning of the school year, I had my students fill out a reading interview.  The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller has a thqqf01nav-copywonderful reading interview that asks the questions that get the answers.  Surveying your students on strategies that you used, books that you chose during the guided lesson and even surveying them on how they feel (5,4,3,2,1, Check ins) make the students feel as if you are asking because you are listening.

2.  Allow students to share their experiences– At the beginning of every class, I show the students a short video clip, commercial, read them an excerpt from a book, listen to a song, or show them advertisements.  Then I follow up with questions..

  • What did you see or hear during the clip?
  • What did it make you think about ?
  • Can you make a connection? (connect to self, text, media, world)
  • What does this have to do with us? What is the relevance?

This all occurs as my hook for learning, but it also builds a ‘We are a family’ mindset.  Both Dr. Eric Jensen who wrote “Engaging Students with Poverty in Mind” and Doug Lemov who wrote “Teach like a Champion” believe in these two strong teaching tactics.  The hook grabs the students’ attention and the ‘family’ mindset allows for discussion, collaboration and an environment to fail without embarrassment or shame. thz78lr9c0-copy

3.  Class Discussion– Again, allowing for collaboration and discussion gives all students a voice.  There is no way a relationship can be built on a Teacher-Led classroom.  If the teacher is the only person doing the talking, then the teacher is the only person doing the learning.  The continuous Improvement model allows for reflection and allows for students to give feedback over the strategies taught and attempted throughout the week.  This feedback and discussion time is vital for learning to occur and for learning to become an ever changing, ever growing concept.

th2obk8c7n-copy4. Teach the Growth Mindset and Grit– Paul Tough wrote the books “How Children Succeed’ and “Helping Children Succeed”.  Both of these books encourage the Carol Dweck mindset of grit.  This is a noncognitive skill that is NOT taught but is a direct reflection of the environment that students are in.  We can teach students about how the brain works; how it is a muscle and can change and grow depending on how often and how much of it is used and how much practice is going on.

Growth Mindset– the effort/ perseverance and NOT the IQ determine a students ability

Gritverb-never giving up even when it is easier to quite

Grit must be the mindset of the teacher.  It must be encouraged, preached and celebrated!!!!  Students need to know that you are in the trenches with them. That this is not a battle between teacher and student.  You are on their team, you are coaching them through these times of perseverance and hardship.

This is the construction the BUILDING occurs.

See how this mindset changed my classroom in my previous posts

.Growth Mindset And what it did for me  and A New Year

5. Have fun and be Positive – Share your life with them with storytelling, integrate games into the learning process

4 Corners


Would you Rather…


 and add music into the classroom during transitions, writing time, or independent working time.

Celebrate the smallest things.  CHAMPS – the positive and proactive approach to classroom management by Randy Sprick researched that students should be hearing 4 positives to 1 negative.  Doug Lemov of “Teach like a Champion’ calls this positive framing turning a redirection into a positive reinforcement.

‘Don’t sit like that’ to “Remember we are SLANTING’

“Stop looking behind you” to “Lets all face forward”

Allow plausible anonymity– allow students to strive to reach your expectations by correcting them without using their names.

Assume positive intent- Until you know that the behavior is being done intentionally, your public redirection should stay positive.

Send home positive notes, call home to say how well someone did today, email parents about the student’s growth and effort in class.  * As a parent, I know this works.

In the last 8 years that I have taught, I have grown as a teacher.  But, the years I took the time to build positive relationships with my students were the years that I knew my students grew the most.  These were also the years that my students performed the best on the state standardized test- Coincidence?  I think NOT.


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