[Fast Tips for Developing and Maintaining Positive Relationships with Students
Positive student-staff relationships have been described as relationships that are “mutually respectful and supportive”, characterized by “empathy, warmth, and genuineness” as well as “open communication between students and adults”. Positive student-staff relationships are also an important component of creating a positive classroom climate. However, finding the right balance between disciplinarian and friend is sometimes a hard task. If you are too relaxed, the students will take control of the classroom. However, being too strict will cause them to rebel. Here are some simple tips for fostering positive relationships and maintaining the right balance:
- 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.
- Remember to give students regular positive feedback that is specific, genuine and brief. Try to “catch them being good”–research indicates that you can improve behavior by 80% just by pointing out what someone is doing correctly. Find students to give positive praise and tell them exactly what they did right (“You really showed me how responsible you are by remembering to bring all of those things to class; good job!”). Remember the 4:1 rule—this means that for every 1 time you tell them when they broke a rule/did something wrong, you also try to tell students about 4 things they did well.
- To improve relationships with students, staff members can give students autonomy and opportunities for decision making by giving them choices in assignments, engaging them in developing classroom rules, and encouraging them to express their opinions in classroom discussions.
- A little small talk goes a long way. Greet students 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. 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.
- Remember that respect is reciprocal. You may think that being an adult automatically means the students must respect you and your ways. While it would be ideal, it is important to model respect for your students.