Teachers and other educators play such an important role in students’ academic and social and emotional development. Much research shows that a strong and caring teacher/student relationship can greatly impact students’ success.

Here are some ideas on how to lay the groundwork for strong relationships with your students at the start of the new school year.

1. Get to Know Your Students as Individuals, Not Just Students

One of the best ways to build a strong relationship with your students is to show them that you care about them as individuals. Ask them questions about their interests, school activities, what they did over the summer, etc. This can be done in both group activities or on a one-on-one basis.

2. Empower Your Students

Providing students with the opportunity to have a say can be an empowering experience for them. During the first week of school, plan an activity where you set the classroom rules as a group. Help them define what behaviors are expected and those that are not allowed. Give them a say in what happens if a student breaks one of the class rules. Through this process, your students will be much more invested in following the rules.

3. Share a Personal Experience

Students often do not realize that their teachers, like themselves, have also struggled and faced obstacles. A great way to connect with your students is by sharing a personal experience about a challenge you faced in your own life and how you overcame the obstacle. This will make you more relatable and “human” to your students. It will also help them see that others have had to work hard to achieve their goals and if they apply themselves they can achieve too.

4. Treat Your Students with Respect

Students, like all people, want to be treated with respect. Show that you care and respect them by listening to them. Really listen. Give them your full attention and make eye contact. Another way to show respect is in the way you talk to your students—speak to them the same way you would speak to your peers, and keep your tone low and even.

Taking the time to develop caring relationships with your students from day one will go a long way in creating a successful and supportive learning environment. Your students will have better motivation to learn, negative behaviors will decrease, and you will be better equipped to promote pro-social behaviors and academic achievement.

Have something to add? We’d love to hear from you! Share your thoughts and ideas in the comments below.