The Importance of Building the Teacher-Student Relationship

Jessica Shaffer
Jessica Shaffer
5th Grade Teacher; M.A. in Administration & Leadership, Georgian Court University, NJ
Smiling teacher sitting in front of a classroom.

Arguably, the teacher-student relationship is the most important relationship that forms within the walls of a school. Students that find a teacher that they trust and that makes them want to be a better person will most likely do that. The students want to make the teacher proud, and when they know one of the ways to do this is by working to their full potential, it quite often happens. When you go into the field of teaching, you do it to make a difference and to “make the world a better place,” and forming a solid relationship with your students is the first step in doing this.

Why Teacher-Student Relationships Are Important

Teacher-student relationships are important because they can create an inviting, warm, and positive environment for learning. When students feel that you believe in them, they will believe in themselves. When a student walks into your classroom, many times you are unaware of his/her home life or living situation. The teacher-student relationship may be the most positive relationship the student has in their life. Building a relationship of trust and mutual respect can be a contributing factor to the overall success of the student in school, as well as a direct correlation to the behaviors of the student.

How Teachers Can Create Appropriate Boundaries with Students

In school, you want to make sure that you treat your students fairly and respectfully. You are not their “friend,” but a role model and figure of authority to them. It is important that students understand you are there to support them in their academic, social, and emotional growth. In your character education program or during your morning routine, you can set norms and create clear-cut boundaries for students in the classroom. This will set the tone, as well as help students understand how the classroom runs and what the teacher’s and students’ roles are within.

As far as outside of school goes, it is imperative to keep your personal social media pages appropriate. You are a role model for the students, and photographs tell a million stories. If you are questioning the appropriateness of a photo, don’t put it up. Even if you keep private profiles, it is on the web, and it is accessible to many.

Additionally, it is best practice not to accept friend or follow requests from students. Many school districts have it built into their social media policy that this is not allowed. Being friends with parents is also something you want to avoid. This can become difficult in many instances as you may already be friends with the parents. You do not know the boundaries within the home and the child, or the child’s friends may access your social media via the parents and be able to find out information and photographs you would rather they do not have.

How Relationships Can Help Improve Student Achievement

To put it quite simply, if students respect and appreciate you, that will help to motivate them. When you have a good relationship with a student, it makes him/her want to come to class which in turn creates more learning and higher levels of achievement. Studies prove that absenteeism has negative effects on student achievement. If a student is not in class, he/she cannot learn whatever is being taught. The best compliment I have ever received is when a student tells me, “I do not like math, but I like your math class.” Creating a classroom that students want to come to can positively affect student attendance and, in turn, student achievement. The best piece of advice I can leave you with is to be the teacher that you wish you had.

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