Building Positive Relationships

Focus on care as a virtue

Building positive relationships in the classroom has been shown to improve the learning and behaviour of all students. Identified by students as desirable positive traits, are teachers who:

  • Acknowledge students likes and dislikes
  • Understand learning difficulties
  • Endeavour to make learning relevant, fun and achievable
  • Listen
  • Care

Some easy to implement strategies for building positive teacher-student relationships are shown in the graphic and video below:

A survey of disengaged students found that if teachers could do anything differently, they would want their teachers to be fairer, to be more supportive and to be more attentive.

Be Fairer

  • Rewards, consequences and expected behaviours should be explicit, consistent and transparent for everyone (do not pick favourites)
  • Encourage and respect students views
  • Give students meaningful responsibilities
  • Talk students through mistakes kindly
  • Give students another chance when they make a mistakes

Be More Supportive

  • Focus on help rather than discipline
  • Accept all students and their families
  • Slow down instruction and don’t rush through things
  • Be patient with students when they don’t understand
  • Explain difficult concepts using simple language and short sentences
  • Assume students asking for more explanation were listening the first time
  • Make students feel safe to ask questions in front of their peers

Be More Attentive

  • Be kind
  • Have a good sense of humour
  • Make students feel like they matter, even when they make mistakes
  • Be discreet and notice when students are struggling and feeling insecure
  • Show an interest in students as a person, their interests and life outside of school
  • Find something you like about students and build a rapport with them

A recent article from The Age – The four secret ingredients that can turn good schools into great ones written 28 March 2019 by Henrietta Cook is an interesting read. It highlights the importance of good relationships, high expectations, flexibility and clear instructions and goals. Perhaps not exactly ‘secret’ ingredients, but certainly important ones for successful and thriving classrooms.

Teachers can make a big difference to the lives of their students with disruptive behaviour by using these strategies. They can also, with a whole school approach like PBIS create a more positive classroom climate ensuring that relationship building is a priority and that students are supported irrespective of where they fall on the behavioural and developmental continuum.