Most teachers choose the field of education in order to inspire and to make an impact on the lives of their students. Many would say that the greatest honor for an educator is to be remembered as a “good” teacher. But what makes a teacher effective? A fifteen-year study titled, Twelve Characteristics of an Effective Teacher by Robert J. Walker, defines effective as “a particular teacher who had been the most successful in helping respondents to learn.” Year after year Walker noticed a common theme emerge: “students focused on teachers’ nurturing and caring qualities” (Walker 64). Now think back to a time when you sat in the classroom of your favorite teacher. What made that teacher unforgettable? I am going to take a wild guess and say it wasn’t because they assigned you the most homework or gave you the most rigorous assessments. Most likely, you remembered that teacher for their personal (qualitative) traits. Maybe they had a sense of humor that made you smile even on the toughest days, or maybe they showed you compassion when no one else did.
In today’s ever demanding classrooms the relationship piece tends to take a back seat to everything else, yet we know it is crucial to students’ academic and social success. So then why are we letting this aspect become extinct in our classrooms? Time. We feel we don’t have enough time. One of our core beliefs at The Institute for Excellence in Education is that relationships matter a lot and they must be established with students. So, how can we foster a relationship with our students when it’s not built into our curriculum?
- Before school Having an ‘office hours’
- Before class begins There is a reason the video below went viral! It’s powerful even to viewers as they watch a teacher creatively make a connection with each individual student before the class even begins. Now, I am not saying you have to create a handshake for each of your students but a simple smile and greeting opens the door to build relationships and sets the stage for connections to be made. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I0jgcyfC2r8&sns=em
- During class So this may be where we struggle to ‘justify’ spending time on relationship building. Most classrooms begin with some type of “morning warmup”. This process usually takes less than ten minutes of class and often times is a “filler” so that teachers can take attendance and set the tone for class to begin. This is an opportune time to build relationships.
- After school This is a golden opportunity to offer extra help, sponsor a student lead club, or even coach or attend an extracurricular activity. Seeing your students outside of your classroom environment will be beneficial for both you and your students.