by Kim Lee
One of the most pure and deeply inspirational relationships is that of a devoted teacher and a willing student.
Almost everyone has a favorite teacher, and those we liked less. What causes us to still cherish these relationships and harbor powerful sentiments of respect and affection (and sometimes a shuddering dislike) for those individuals who were responsible for mentoring us? The answer is quite simple. It’s how the student teacher relationships were developed, nurtured, and given space to evolve.
The ability to forge a positive, powerful relationship between a student and teacher may seem like a difficult task first but can be easily accomplished by creating a strong learning environment. The learning is not a one way process alone; an effective learning environment is where all individuals involved learn from each other. While students learn a particular subject from a teacher, the teacher learns how to improve her teaching skills and make the lessons more interesting by gaining insights from the students. Thus, both parties learn from each other.
Many qualities define a positive relationship and pave ways on how to create powerful student teacher relationships. These can be seen to include good communication, a safe learning environment and mutual respect, a positive and patient attitude, student equality and timely praise. The teacher who becomes the ‘favorite’ is one who possesses these in good measure.
Not all students are alike. While some quickly grasp the concepts taught and take an active part in the learning process, others may be shy, uninterested or even downright disruptive. This puts additional responsibility on a teacher to create such an atmosphere which is conducive to an interesting learning process. It’s the teachers who are like sculptors and students, the soft clay, ready to be molded into a master piece. As Aristotle once said “those who educate children well are more to be honored than they who produce them; for these only gave them life, those the art of living well.”
So what does it take then? How should you bring about such difference in the classroom that creates an everlasting, powerful relationship between a student and a teacher? Below are 4 timeless elements of strong student-teacher relationships.
1. Consistent Communication
Consistent communication is the most vital element as it serves to create a connection between the two. A teacher who understands the problems of his or her students and then shapes his or her teaching style in order to interact better with the student can see success, but this takes not simply observation, but communication. Of course, teachers can’t understand every problem of every child in their class room but a general idea, grasped from the trouble points and insight into behavior can go a long way in shaping a good two way communication. The more the teacher communicates well, the higher is the chance of fast and effective learning at the student’s end.
2. An Emotionally-Safe Learning Space
Creating an open learning environment where different opinions are equally respected and where there is no fear of ridicule from either one’s peers or the teacher is crucial for building good student teacher relationships. Students need to feel safe when asking questions, safe in the belief that they won’t be taunted or criticized and that their question or comment will be answered with patience and respect.
3. Mutual Respect, Trust, & Feedback
Mutual respect and trust are at the foundation of any lasting relationship. Student-teacher interaction that is based merely on academic progress or behavior management creates inhibitions within a student and stifles true relationship-building. Those teachers that show respect towards their students and a keenness to help them through their difficulties become the object of respect themselves and trigger a drive among students to learn and make their teachers proud.
Telling students that they have the ability to do well and praising them often with smiles, words of approval, patient conversation, and even celebratory applause will all lead to motivating a student further and accomplishing more.
4. True Equity
Disparity in learning is a barrier to academic performance. Whether you’re talking about technology access, access to literature, or related socioeconomic trends, equity matters.
This extends to the relationship between those leading learning environments (primarily teachers and administrators) and those being led (primarily students). Creating favorites and focusing on those individuals can create resentment among others who feel marginalized and left out. Focusing equally on all students in class will no doubt lead to a powerful student teacher relationship for everyone.
Kim Lee recently started working as an online education news reporter in college and have been working as a freelance writer; 4 Timeless Elements Of Strong Student-Teacher Relationships; image attribution flickr user ferranpestana