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The basis of a good relationship with your students is trust

Updated: Oct 25, 2021

Trust is not something that can be demanded from students

The basis of a good relationship with your students is trust. If your students don't trust you, they won't heed your advice, and most will simply tune out whenever you speak. But how do you build trust in the classroom?

Understand that building trust with students is like building relationships in general. You can't expect to build rapport with someone unless you give them something of yourself first.

A good relationship with your students is the basis of a good education. Your students have to trust you as a person and as a teacher. It’s crucial to have a personal connection with each student so that they feel comfortable with you and won’t be as nervous to try new things or ask questions.

If you want to build trust in the classroom, you need to be consistent. It’s important to be reliable and to deliver on your promises.

Before you teach a class, prepare an agenda and objectives. These objectives should include goals, how to measure them, and a time frame to reach them. An agenda should include topics associated with each objective, along with information about where to find examples during class. It’s very important to include examples of the expectations so that the students can see what their lessons will look like and how their work should look.

When class starts, overview the agenda with students, then stick to it. This model of consistency helps to show you're reliable and that you deliver on promises. If you say you’ll send out an assignment by a certain time, make sure it gets sent out on time. If you promise a test, never forget the test. Commit to your promises.

Build rapport by being genuine and giving advice without judgment

You can build trust and rapport with students by being genuine and giving advice without judgment. Everyone wants to feel like they’re being heard and understood. By showing someone that you understand where they’re coming from and that you get what they’re going through, they’ll feel more comfortable about opening up to you. It’s important to instill this culture with every student; it's something worth holding on to.

Mention often that you genuinely care about them as individual people. A curriculum full of information and exercises without a personal touch on the side will not make any difference when tried out by students in the real world outside of school.

When you voice criticism, instead of using their issues to shut them down, be a model in showing a student they can work on their own problems rather than wallowing in their own failures. Don’t look at papers and assignments as a scoreboard. Use your position to help people and make a difference in their lives.

Don't try to be everyone's friend; this will only lead to disappointment

One of the biggest mistakes you can make in your career is trying to be everyone's friend. When you try to please everyone, you end up being pulled in all the wrong directions.

Be willing to say no to people, even if you don't want to, because if you try to please everyone, you'll end up being disappointed yourself. You need to set healthy boundaries and constantly remind your students that you’re in this together to learn.

Give your students the respect they deserve, and they'll give it back to you

When a student walks into your class, that’s a vulnerable moment for them. It’s your responsibility to give them your attention and your respect. If you do that well, then they’ll more likely give you their time and effort.

Don’t try to impress students with your knowledge. Learn to focus your energy on listening for questions, quirks, and insights. Instead of rushing through your curriculum and notes with reckless attachment to scope, sequence, and pacing, learn to teach good questioning and be prepared to answer the questions you'll field as a result.

Building strong relationships with your students is the key to effective teaching, and like other relationships, trust is built through giving, not taking

We all know that trust is important in relationships. Trust is a relationship between two people in which they both feel safe to be themselves and act naturally without fear of judgment or rejection. Trust is built by giving, not taking.

If you want your students to trust you, then spend time with them, help them when they need it, be honest with them about your own struggles as an instructor. Get to know your students — really know them — and they will trust you more. Once they trust you, you'll have the opportunity to make a difference in their lives.


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