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Application in classrooms

To improve relationships with students a teacher can give students autonomy and opportunites for decision making, "by giving them choices in assignmnents, engaging them in developing classroom rules, and encouraging them to express their opinions in classroom discussions." (Stipek,2006) It is also important to get to know your students by learning what they enjoy to do outside of school, such as hobbies or sports. Other methods of improving methods of postive relationships between students and teachers could be to organize nonacademic extracurricuar activites for students and teachers to participate together, have students and teacher eat lunch together in small groups a few times a week, having homeroom teachers act as advisors for students, and develop dicsiplinary policies that carry high expectations for students while fostering caring realtionships.(Stuhlman, Hamre, & Pianta, 2002)

Developing good relationships

Specific actions in developing good relationships can be summarized as follows:

Show the student he or she matters by:

  • greeting by name, smiling, showing an interest by comments and questions
  • finding something about the most challenging student to like or admire and commenting positively on qualities and strengths. This may position them and their behaviour differently - attributing to them resourcefulness, humour, protectiveness, spirit in the face of adversity etc. This may give the student an alternative self-concept to work towards
  • giving regular positive feedback that is specific, genuine and brief
  • showing belief, trust and high expectations
  • showing that their success, safety and well-being is of concern.

Show acceptance of the person but not their behaviour by:

  • stating what students are expected to do rather than what they shouldn't be doing - information is much easier to hear than accusation
  • using 'I' statements rather than 'you' statements which comment on behaviour
  • not labeling people
  • offering comfort in distress
  • giving choices which give the student some control and promote self-efficacy.

Develop a sense of inclusion and belonging by:

  • ensuring that there are experiences which guarantee success - however small
  • ensuring that there is fairness - giving each their turn
  • framing behaviour in terms of equity rights eg. 'You are not allowed to hurt another student and other students are not allowed to hurt you'
  • encouraging students to take a responsibility and giving positive feedback for this
  • using the word 'we' and 'our' to include not to exclude
  • avoiding unfavorable comparisons or put downs
  • avoiding self-fulfilling prophecies
  • doing everything possible to avoid sanctions that are about exclusion
  • welcoming students back if they have been absent
  • speaking about the student positively to others.(Roffey, 2007)

Improving Student-Teacher Relationships

  • Don't try to be their best friend. While it is good to have a positive relationship with your students, you are the authority figure and you need to act like it to garner the respect you deserve. By trying too hard to be their friend, you send a signal that it's okay to treat you like they treat their friends. This probably is not what you really want. It may be hard to discipline the students if they are used to palling around with you.
  • Don't be a task master. The Authoritarian teaching style is one of the least effective according to most research. If you are too busy yelling or being stern, you miss many opportunities to listen and earn respect. No one really wants to be that teacher all the students fear. Stick to your guns, but don't be totally inflexible.
  • A little small talk goes a long way. Greet your students at the door and ask them how their day is going. This technique only works if you are sincere when you ask. Make them feel like you really do care about them.
  • Smile at them and actually listen. Eye contact is a great way to show them that you respect them and their respect for you will grow as well. When you are talking with a student, put all other things aside to let them know that what they have to say is important to you.
  • Respect is reciprocal. You may think that being a teacher automatically means the students must respect you and your ways. This couldn't be farther from the truth. While it would be ideal, you need to earn the respect of your students just as you respect them if they earn it as well. (Scoville, 2008)