Three Ways To Improve Your Relationships With Your Students

Spotting behaviors that are out of line is pretty easy, but it’s only the first step in being able to address them. Finding patterns in those external behaviors are key to truly managing your classroom. Even more important, though, is understanding the unmet needs that are feeding the behaviors. As a teacher, addressing where students feel unsupported is key to meeting that need. As a teacher, addressing where students feel unsupported is key is improving your relationship with them, improving their behaviors, and ultimately setting them up for academic success.

1. Balancing Compliments and Criticism

Which is more successful at promoting student performance: providing students praise when they perform well or sharing tips for growth when they fall short? The latest research shows that they are both crucial, as one would anticipate. However, the essential question is: by how much?

Ratio of Success

Teachers can think of a 3:1 ratio when they engage with their students. Most interactions in the classroom can be placed in 2 categories: compliments (or good feedback) and the redirections (or negative feedback). Three positive comments should follow every negative one in order to counteract the negative impact of your words and to build the students self-confidence praising their accomplishments.

2. Avoiding “Negative” Positive Feedback

It’s crucial to keep in mind, though, that vague praise may lead students to place more value on your positive reaction than they do about actually internalizing new behaviors. When giving praise, think about whether you’re recognizing the student’s efforts, or are you focused only on outcomes. Empty praise won’t be taken at face value and may seem insincere and actually decrease good behavior, while on the other hand focusing on specific incidents or actions of the student, improves their attitude towards school work.

What does behavior-specific praise look like?

To encourage change, it’s important to be clear and specific when describing the behaviors you are praising or complimenting. Example:

“Great job in class today!”

-VERSUS
“I noticed that you were getting distracted today and were able to refocus yourself. Way to go!”

“You did a great job during our discussion!

-VERSUS
“I noticed when you managed your frustration when I wasn’t able to call on you.”

3. Recognizing When A Student Is Asking For Help

Any teacher knows, misbehavior is not uncommon in the classroom. Students disrupting class or acting out indicates an underlying issue that the student is struggling to cope with. Identifying and addressing the cause of misbehavior is crucial to providing positive encouragement.

Sometimes when a student needs help, or is “having a day,” they will act out. This can be mistaken for seeking attention or written off as typical misbehaviors, but that is not always the case. Think about being in physical pain or physically injured. Most people have no problem crying out and asking for help. The ideal situation is that students do the same thing in the classroom. When they are struggling or need help, they seek out the teacher for help or advice. Students are not always able to do this, though.

Relationships Between Student and Teacher

The value of the relationship between a student and a teacher could not be more important. If a student does not sense a genuine connection with an adult at school, they’re far less likely to be a respectful member of the classroom community or to experience academic success.

It goes a long way to greet kids every morning and to spend time learning about their interests and personal lives. As their teacher, that helps you build a solid relationship and gain their trust. When someone cares about them and they care about them back, they are more likely to reach out to them for help. Prioritize uncovering the hidden reasons behind students’ actions and how you can make sure they have a chance to shine every day.

Spotting behaviors that are out of line is pretty easy, but it’s only the first step in being able to address them. Finding patterns in those external behaviors are key to truly managing your classroom. Even more important, though, is understanding the unmet needs that are feeding the behaviors. As a teacher, addressing where students feel unsupported is key to meeting that need. As a teacher, addressing where students feel unsupported is key is improving your relationship with them, improving their behaviors, and ultimately setting them up for academic success.

1. Balancing Compliments and Criticism

Which is more successful at promoting student performance: providing students praise when they perform well or sharing tips for growth when they fall short? The latest research shows that they are both crucial, as one would anticipate. However, the essential question is: by how much?

Ratio of Success

Teachers can think of a 3:1 ratio when they engage with their students. Most interactions in the classroom can be placed in 2 categories: compliments (or good feedback) and the redirections (or negative feedback). Three positive comments should follow every negative one in order to counteract the negative impact of your words and to build the students self-confidence praising their accomplishments.

2. Avoiding “Negative” Positive Feedback

It’s crucial to keep in mind, though, that vague praise may lead students to place more value on your positive reaction than they do about actually internalizing new behaviors. When giving praise, think about whether you’re recognizing the student’s efforts, or are you focused only on outcomes. Empty praise won’t be taken at face value and may seem insincere and actually decrease good behavior, while on the other hand focusing on specific incidents or actions of the student, improves their attitude towards school work.

What does behavior-specific praise look like?

To encourage change, it’s important to be clear and specific when describing the behaviors you are praising or complimenting. Example:
  • “Great job in class today!” 
    -VERSUS
  • “I noticed that you were getting distracted today and were able to refocus yourself.  Way to go!”
  • “You did a great job during our discussion!
    -VERSUS
  • “I noticed when you managed your frustration when I wasn’t able to call on you.”

3. Recognizing When A Student Is Asking For Help

Any teacher knows, misbehavior is not uncommon in the classroom. Students disrupting class or acting out indicates an underlying issue that the student is struggling to cope with. Identifying and addressing the cause of misbehavior is crucial to providing positive encouragement. 

Sometimes when a student needs help, or is “having a day,” they will act out. This can be mistaken for seeking attention or written off as typical misbehaviors, but that is not always the case. Think about being in physical pain or physically injured. Most people have no problem crying out and asking for help. The ideal situation is that students do the same thing in the classroom.  When they are struggling or need help, they seek out the teacher for help or advice. Students are not always able to do this, though.

Relationships Between Student and Teacher

The value of the relationship between a student and a teacher could not be more important. If a student does not sense a genuine connection with an adult at school, they’re far less likely to be a respectful member of the classroom community or to experience academic success.

It goes a long way to greet kids every morning and to spend time learning about their interests and personal lives. As their teacher, that helps you build a solid relationship and gain their trust. When someone cares about them and they care about them back, they are more likely to reach out to them for help. Prioritize uncovering the hidden reasons behind students’ actions and how you can make sure they have a chance to shine every day.