To have a successful year with your class, you want to create a solid foundation from the very first day. That foundation paves the way to having good relationships with each learner so that they can learn as much as possible. A teacher’s relationship with a learner has a tremendous impact on how much learners achieve throughout the year.
Create a Safe Classroom.
Learners should know that they are safe in the classroom. No idea will be laughed at, and learners will be respectful of each other’s individual characteristics and personalities. When learners know they can speak freely in the classroom, they are more likely to want to participate in class discussions and in group work. This can contribute greatly to their learning throughout the year.
Avoid giving your learners praise for being smart or good. Instead, offer them praise specifically on what they do well. For example, you might say, “That was a really nice strategy to use in that situation.” When you make positive comments on what your learners are doing, then it shows that you care about them.
Be Authentic, and Keep Your Promises.
When you make a mistake, let your learners know. When you don’t know an answer, tell them, and say you’ll get back to them after you do some research. And then follow up with the answer.
When you admit to being human and making mistakes, it shows them that you aren’t using your position of authority to just enjoy wielding power in the classroom. You are not any better or worse than they are, and it gives them confidence to take risks and be open about their failings.
When you continue to try, you set a positive example in not giving up and being willing to always learn. When you follow up with them when you don’t know an answer, it builds trust because you said you would do something, and then you actually did it.
Get to Know Your Learners
Listen to your learners when they talk to you about their fears and concerns. What do they like doing outside of class? If they don’t offer the information, ask them. You could do this in a class discussion or perhaps in a survey at the beginning of the year. Talk to them about what interests them, and reveal yourself to them as well. The more authentic you are about your own life, the more learners are likely to reveal themselves to you.
Build a Collaborative Classroom
Encourage your learners to work together on project-based activities that get them learning about topics they’re interested in. Ask them what they want to learn about, and then incorporate that into the lessons that you teach. Engage them in what they’re interested in already, and you will probably find that they are more likely to retain the other lessons you teach within the context of those topics.
In the end, building relationships with learners comes down to the golden rule of treating them how you want to be treated: with respect.