In the classroom, you’ve got to establish a relationship with your students. You can’t afford to be standoffish or vague when talking about your job. If they perceive you as arrogant, they’re likely to tune out completely.
Creating trust is key to student success. But it’s not as simple as just being nice or being a good teacher. It’s about creating an environment where students feel safe and confident to do their best work.
It takes time to build that rapport. But if you take the proper steps early on, it’s much easier later on. Here are some tips for establishing trust with your students:
We all have our own personal experiences that we bring into the classroom. Be careful not to share these experiences — especially negative ones — with your students. Your experiences may be different than theirs, which can make them feel alienated from you or make them suspicious of you as a teacher. In the long run, this will only serve to create more distrust among students.
In addition, you should try not to make assumptions about your students based on those personal experiences. It’s easy for a teacher to assume that a student who was bullied in high school will respond negatively when they see that same kid sitting in his classroom the next day. That student could be reacting to a bad experience from years before, and if you treat them differently because of it, they may react negatively again.
Your job is teaching, not selling. If you’re not comfortable talking about work details, don’t do it. When students come to the classroom, they already have plenty of distractions in their lives — homework, sports practice, family obligations, and other things that may take away from their attention span. They don’t need anything else distracting them from what should be their main focus: learning how to educate themselves at home and in school.
Prepare ahead of time
Be sure you have all your materials ready before class starts, so there’s no reason for your students to ask you questions about them during class or during study hall, or lunchtime. You can also create materials that are relevant to the lesson being taught at the time, so there’s no disconnect between what was being taught and what is being used in class at any given moment.
While preparing ahead of time helps avoid initial questions during class, it doesn’t eliminate them entirely because people are still curious about things like where their next paycheck will come from or why they haven’t heard back from colleges after applying for financial aid. Fortunately, there are ways to address those questions without turning off your students completely.
Trust and Observe
Trust is essential in any relationship, whether with a parent, child, coworker, or spouse. Teaching is no different. If you can’t trust your students, then they won’t take the time to learn what you’re trying to teach them. If they don’t take the time to learn, you’ll have to spend more time explaining things than you would otherwise.
It’s challenging to build trust with students when you don’t understand them or their needs. To build trust in your classroom, it’s crucial to be observant and mindful of your students’ actions and reactions. The more comfortable you understand all of your students, the more likely they will feel comfortable learning in your class.
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