Back to school is an exciting, but busy time. You and your students are excited for a new year, a freshly decorated classroom, and new opportunities. With all of the excitement, it's important to take the time to build relationships with students early on.
This will help ease any nerves and reservations from you AND your students. It will also set your classroom up for a happy and productive learning environment. Read on for some key tips for building relationships with students.
Why Building Relationships with Students is Important
There is one thing that is a necessity in every classroom, from Kindergarten up to high school, and that is TRUST.
Students need to be able to trust their teacher and feel safe and understood at school. They need to know that their teacher likes them, values them, has their best interest at heart, and is on their side.
Students will work 10 times harder for you if they trust you. They will be more willing to work hard and please you. However, building that trusting relationship can be challenging, especially with brand new kindergarteners at the beginning of the year.
You genuinely need to be concerned and interested in what is going on in each of your students' lives. A few simple steps will help your students know that you are concerned and care about them.
Tip #1: Smile
There's nothing more powerful than a genuine smile. Whether you're meeting your students for the first time at meet the teacher night or in the mornings as they walk through the door of the classroom, be sure to greet them with a smile.
It's easy to use student arrival time as an opportunity to chat with other teachers or finish up some last minute to-dos, but taking the time to greet your students lets them know that you're happy to see them and happy they came to school that day.
Plus, you never know how their morning began. Maybe they were in a hurry, missed the bus, or forgot their lunch. A smile and greeting can turn their day around in a heartbeat.
As a bonus, saying a simple phrase like “I'm so happy to see you!” will only support your smile and deepen that relationship.
Tip #2: Get to Know Your Students
Another great way to build relationships with students is to ask them questions! Kids LOVE to talk and share stories. By asking them to share with you, they feel valued and empowered.
A great question to ask at the beginning of the week is “What did you do this weekend?” Spend 5 minutes on Monday morning listening to their stories.
This is great for developing oral language and taking turns. Plus, it gives them the chance to get their exciting stories out instead of chatting during work time later.
If a student receives a special award from an after-school activity, such as soccer or baseball, invite them to bring it in and share it with the class.
At the beginning of the year, you can have students do a 3 About Me activity to get to know them better. They can bring in 3 objects or special items that represent who they are.
They can even bring in pictures of their family. These can be displayed throughout the year to make the students feel more at home.
Tip #3: Spend Time Together
Mornings can be a busy time in the classroom, but consider spending a few minutes before class starts interacting with your students.
As they get settled in, walk around and have short, 1 to 2 minute conversations with a few students, one-on-one. Bend down and get on their level. Then the next day, pick a few different students.
Even if you only have a few minutes to spare, it can make a world of difference and it lets them know you care.
You can even incorporate some fun ice breaker games into your morning routine. You can do these games quickly at the beginning of carpet time before you start your first subject of the day.
Tip #4: Be an Encourager
Mornings are also the perfect time to spend a few minutes one-on-one with those couple of students who need extra positive attention.
Encourage them to have a good day and follow the rules. You can even set a small goal together. Think of this as a pep talk to help them start their day on the right foot.
Rather than acting out to get your attention in a negative way, they start their day with positive attention from you.
This is going to show them you care about them and are rooting for them to reach their goal. This makes a big deposit in that bank account of trust you are growing!
To help them make good choices, incorporate social skills and listening skills activities into your daily routine. You can grab this FREE listening skills download by filling out the form below. It will be delivered straight to your inbox!
Tip #5: Share a Meal
Everybody needs to eat, and kids LOVE to eat with their teacher! Now, I know that lunch is the time you make copies, run to the bathroom, and just take a deep breath.
However, a couple of days a month and throughout the year, consider inviting a small group of students to eat lunch with you in the classroom. A lunch date with the teacher can even be a classroom reward that students work to earn.
Lunch time is the perfect time to have casual conversations with your students in a relaxed, comfortable environment.
What better way to get to know your littles than over a fun lunch? Not only will you build relationships with your students while filling their tummies, but you'll create an environment where your kiddos feel loved and safe. That's triple duty!
Tip #6: Make Positive Comments
Making positive comments and complimenting students is probably one of the easiest tips to implement.
Say something like, “I love your shirt,” or “Wow, your handwriting looks beautiful!” or “I am so proud of how you…..!”
These are just a few examples of how positive comments can help build relationships with your students.
Being specific in your positive comments is also critical. Your compliment means more when you are specific.
Rather than saying, “Great job lining up,” you could say, “I love how you went to the door without talking to your neighbors!” This lets students know exactly what they did right so they will want to repeat the behavior.
It also lets them know that you are always watching and paying attention. This will encourage the rest of the class to follow that positive behavior without pointing out the negative behaviors.
This is much easier to accomplish and get kids to react to if your relationship is already forming and getting stronger!
Tip #7: Make Positive Parent Contacts
Communicating with parents creates a positive relationship between the teacher, student, and parent. If you have that positive relationship built on trust, it makes working together so much easier.
Making a positive parent contact early on will help make any negative contact you may have to make later in the year go much more smoothly.
Simply calling, texting, or emailing a parent to tell them their child has done something super that day (while being specific) will work to create a positive home-school relationship. This will help make for a stronger partnership and a productive school year.
As you can see, there are so many ways you can build relationships with students. Smile, ask questions, have a special lunch, be specific on what your kids are doing that makes you proud, connect with parents, and you will develop a strong relationship built on trust!
Incorporating these small, simple steps into your day creates the type of learning environment students can thrive in. It really makes an impact!
Plus, your students will remember you for years to come. I wish you the best of luck this school year as you work to build relationships with your students!
What are your favorite ways to build relationships with your students? Comment below and let me know!