Building positive and lasting student relationships is incredibly important. In fact, positive student relationships are the cornerstone of my classroom management style (I really hate the word management but that’s what it’s most commonly known as). I teach 8th-12th grade students now but I found it much easier to have positive student reactions when I was teaching K-2 students since they were easily won over by stickers and high fives.
1. Get their name right.
This might seem like a small thing but names are important. They are part of people’s identity. Can you remember when someone unexpectedly remembered your name and how good that felt? Often times students get to high school and assume teachers won’t say their name correctly. This is such a small gesture that can pay big dividends in building positive relationships.
In the beginning of the year I give a Google Form survey. On it, I ask what they prefer to be called and how to pronounce it. While I prefer to do this on the first day of school, it is never too late to ask this question.
2. Send them a card.
I have made a commitment to send at least one positive message to students each week and rather than do it through a simple email, I’ve been sending students cards. I have been sending both physical and virtual mail.
I have been using Paperless Post to send my students e-cards.
Full disclosure: Paperless Post did give me digital coins for free to try out their online service and write about my experience. All opinions expressed are my own and not influenced by the company in any way. I would only recommend something that I would use myself and think would be beneficial to my followers.
They have TONS of styles for birthdays, holidays, and just because that can be easily customized. Below, you’ll see an example of one I sent out. I decided to send the e-card to both students and parents/guardians so parents/guardians could see what great work their child was doing in my class.
So far, I’ve gotten great response from sending out cards to students. It can take a little extra effort but this small gesture has had a big impact!
Thank you for the birthday card! Most of the time my birthday is not recognized since we are beginning to start the new year.
3. Check in on your students.
As students get older, people tend to assume kids are okay. But students in high school need to be checked on as much, if not more than any other age. Showing you care builds trust. It can also tell you a lot about students that may not be obvious. Students will be surprisingly open about their joys and struggles when you give them the opportunity.
I use check in questions on exit tickets but you could add them on tests, quizzes, assignments, etc. I usually put check in questions on my exit tickets every couple of weeks.
Example check in questions:
- How are classes going for you?
- What are you excited about?
- How was your break? or How do you feel about the upcoming break?
- What is something you wish every teacher knew about you?
- What worries you?
- How is the semester going for you?
- How can I help you?
- Is anything stressing you out right now?
- What are you grateful for?
Check in on your students. Not just to build positive relationships. But because you might be the only person checking in on them.
It’s really nice to see you looking after your students personally, as not many teachers do (especially as one gets into later grades). Thank you. ^-^