Building strong, positive student-teacher relationships is at the heart of meaningful engagement and effective education.

While that sounds simple enough, it requires a mental and emotional investment from educators each and every day, along with ample support from parents, administrators, and the community at large. The outcome of collaboration among these important stakeholders is the ability to promote student engagement, enhance their social-emotional competencies, and improve their academic achievement.

How to Foster Student-Teacher Relationships

As discussed in Go2s’ blog post last week, “What Do Students Bring to the Table?,” one of the first steps to cultivating positive relationships among educators and students in the classroom is ditching the deficit model in favor of identifying and utilizing the unique assets each child possesses. Additionally, genuinely believing a student can achieve their academic and social-emotional goals, and holding them to those expectations, is also critical if teachers want to positively influence their students and guide them toward success. According to the book “Educator’s Guide to Preventing and Solving Discipline Problems,” other effective measures educators can implement include:

Calling on Students Equitably

This is a way for educators to subtly communicate their positive expectations of all students in the classroom, not just a select few. When students are regularly not called on and see their peers being asked for the answers instead, it sends a message that the teacher doesn’t expect they will know the answer, and they start to tune out. It takes conscious effort and monitoring from teachers to make sure all students are called on equitably.

Increasing the Time for Students to Respond

After posing a question, there is a period of latency as a teacher waits for a student to respond. Stretching out this latency period, even when a student is struggling for the answer, helps them know the teacher is confident in their ability to figure it out and recall the correct information. Doing the opposite, or giving up on a struggling student quickly, communicates a lack of confidence.

Providing Clues to Aid Students in Answering Questions

Typically, teachers inadvertently give more tips and clues to students for whom they have high expectations. That could include rephrasing a question or providing a tidbit of information that helps the child recall the answer. It’s important for teachers to exhibit this behavior for all students, demonstrating they have high expectations for the entire classroom.

Using Constructive Methods of Construction

Correcting children is an inevitable part of a teacher’s job. However, the manner in which they correct or discipline a student can affect the child’s feelings about themselves and subsequently, the teacher-student relationship. Being fair, quick, and kind when doling out correction while simultaneously expressing care and respect for the student is more likely to motivate them to reflect on their own behavior and maintain their dignity and self-confidence than communicating low expectations, disgust, sarcasm, or bitterness. This is also critical for effective social-emotional learning (SEL), as students learn by example the positive ways to deal with negative emotions and conflict.

Demonstrating Empathy and Caring

This one is probably rather intuitive, but it’s worth including anyway. The key to fostering any relationship—including the one between teachers and their students—is communicating empathy and care for each child. This involves both direct communication of the message, as well as subtle demonstrations through asking them questions, following up with them on things they think are important, giving them grace, and being respectful. Also, teachers know they will become stressed out and frustrated at times but it’s crucial they proactively figure out how they will deal with it so it doesn’t produce a negative effect on student-teacher relationships.

Where Do Parents and Communities Come In?

The first three blogs in this series have focused primarily on teachers and how their beliefs, attitudes, and abilities have the greatest influence on a child’s academic achievements. However, the onus also falls upon parents, as well as the entire local community, to contribute toward positive outcomes. According to Roger Weissberg, Chief Knowledge Officer of the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL), “Family and community partnerships can strengthen the impact of school approaches to extending learning into the home and neighborhood.

Parents and/or guardians must be present at every instructional roundtable where solutions and interventions are decided with the student’s input. It’s also important, especially with elementary aged children, that parents and teachers utilize some of the same techniques to help students apply their SEL skills in both the home and classroom environment.

Volunteering, attending school board meetings, offering field trip opportunities through local businesses, and contributing opinions for policy decisions are other ways parents, families, and community members can be involved in their schools. According to a policy brief from the National Education Association, “Successful school-parent-community partnerships are not stand-alone projects or add-on programs but are well integrated with the school’s overall mission and goals.” Afterall, when teachers and students succeed, entire communities succeed as well.

Creating Opportunities for Connection

Communication is essential for meaningful involvement in your child’s education. Go2s offers a platform for you to stay connected with your various community groups, inlcuding your children’s teachers, coaches, and other parents. Through Go2s group, you can manage group events on calendars, coordinate tasks and posts messages, all on one secure social network.

Part 1: The Evolving Education Environment

Part 2: The Power of Educators’ Attitudes to Influence Student Success

Part 3: What Do Students Bring to the Table?