Article | Building a Relationship with Students

Consider the following scenario, you have a geography exam coming up and need help with a chapter. Your mother suggests that her office colleague (who you don’t know too well) can help you with the chapter or you could ask your best friend’s father (who you know well) to help you with the chapter. Who would you choose? Most people choose to take help from their best friend’s father, since they know the person and have a rapport with them.

What does this tell us about a teacher-student relationship? It clearly brings out the fact that students learn or prefer to learn from those they know well. Teachers who make the effort to know their students, understand their needs and build relationships with their students, are likely to have a better impact on student learning than the teacher who comes to class teaches the subject and leaves.

The micro-innovation article shared this week by STIR Education – MI Monday | Student Letterbox, features Jasbeer, a grade 3 teacher who implemented a letterbox in her class, to give her students a chance to share their concerns as well as build a strong relationship with them. By putting up a letterbox, Jasbeer gave her students a chance to express and be heard, and she took the effort to reply to each letter, indicating that she listened and cared for them.

The teacher–student relationship is one of the most powerful elements within the learning environment. A major factor affecting students’ development, school engagement and academic motivation, teacher–student relationships form the basis of the social context in which learning takes place (Hughes & Chen, 2011; Roorda et al.,2011; Spilt, Koomen & Thijs, 2011)

By making the effort to know students better, a teacher creates a supportive learning environment for students. Students recognize this effort and appreciate the fact that the teacher listens to them and acknowledges them as individual people and not as a batch of students. It’s not easy to get to know every student in class, especially if you are dealing with a class of 60 students. But, the job calls for it, and so it must be done.

Put yourself in the shoes of a student and think – would you like it if a teacher called you by name and spoke to you, or acknowledged you as she walked past you in the hallway? The answer would be “yes”. Have you ever met teachers who do so? The answer would be “yes”. So the only questions left to answer are – “Are you that teacher?”, “Can you be that teacher?” and “Do you want to be that teacher?”

Video: Every kid needs a champion

In this inspiring TED Talk video, educator Rita Pierson emphasizes the importance of building relationships with students. She shares her experiences as a teacher and describes how she instilled pride in her low performing students.


The following video is an extract from Tara Brown’s teacher training workshops. In this video, she shares classroom experiences and highlights the benefits of building relationships with students.

We leave you with this two-part video series where student’s describe what they think of their teachers and what they would want of their teachers.

Video: Student Interviews – Connecting With Students – Part 1

connecting with students 1

Video: Student Interviews – Connecting With Students – Part 2

connecting with students 2

Kanchan Shine

Kanchan Shine

Passionate about everything related to education. I believe that the best kind of learning happens through play, experiments and fun! I love watching how children learn and love to implement play-based, hands-on teaching approaches. I get my thrill by planning activities for my children (6 yo girl & 3 yo boy) and watching them learn while having fun!

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4 Responses

  1. s12sheetal says:

    Excellent videos and agree with the facts that “Teaching and Learning should bring joy and “Teachers can make a difference and add values in the life of students.”

  2. An excellent article Kanchan. Thanks 🙂

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