How to create trust with your students: 6 tips for building relationships in the classroom
Creating trust with your students is one of the most important things you can do as a teacher. Without it, your students won’t feel safe asking you questions, raising their hands, or giving their opinions in class discussions.
And without that trust and safety, they won’t fully engage in your lessons or learn as much from them as they could be learning.
Fortunately, creating trust in the classroom isn’t difficult at all; it just takes some planning and effort on your part to make sure it happens.
1) Get to know them as individuals
The best way to build trust is by getting to know your students as individuals. You’ll be able to see their strengths and weaknesses, allowing you to identify what motivates them or what they need help on.
Once you know more about them, you can teach according to their needs. For example, if one of your students struggles with reading comprehension but excels at math, it would make sense to provide more work related to math so that they’re interested.
Likewise, if a student has a short attention span and loves talking, it would make sense to give them less reading assignments while still giving them plenty of opportunity to speak up during class discussions.
2) Show them that you care
✓ Show them you care by asking open-ended questions that require more than a yes or no answer. It is important to get to know your students and their interests, so make sure you ask them about things outside of school too.
✓ Make yourself available at all times. This includes checking in before, during and after class as well as sending emails when you are out sick or on vacation. You never know when an opportunity for a meaningful conversation may arise, so be prepared!
✓ Speak up. Don’t let fear of confrontation stop you from addressing issues with your students. Remember they will respect you more if you can admit mistakes and speak openly about any problems that arise in the classroom setting.
✓ Be honest and realistic. When communicating expectations for work and behavior, make sure you share both the positive and negative consequences for not meeting these expectations.
Remind students that everyone makes mistakes sometimes, but it’s what we do next (taking responsibility) that really matters.
✓ Find common ground. No matter how different our backgrounds may be, we all have something in common with each other – which is our desire to learn and grow as people.
3) Be consistent
Show up on time and be prepared. Know what you are going to teach and how much time it will take.
Get to know your students by asking them about themselves and their interests. Be consistent about what is expected of them and give clear instructions about how they should behave in class.
Give praise when it’s deserved, but also be clear when there are consequences for not following directions or behaving appropriately.
If a student makes a mistake, don’t assume that he or she understands that it was wrong; instead, help them understand why it was wrong so they can avoid repeating the behavior.
Finally, set aside some one-on-one time for every student to get his or her questions answered about schoolwork, expectations in the classroom, and homework assignments.
It’s important to allow some time each day for this because even though you might already answer all these questions during morning homeroom, your students might have forgotten or changed their minds between then and class.
For example, if they said they didn’t need help understanding the assignment on Monday morning, but then changed their minds by Tuesday afternoon, this might mean that they had a different question than what they originally asked at homeroom.
4) Be a role model
The first step is to be a role model. You’re not just a teacher, you’re also a human being. Be real. Show students that they are important by listening and responding thoughtfully when they talk about their lives.
Show them how you take care of yourself by eating well, exercising and doing things you love outside of school.
Demonstrate this by taking care of yourself as an adult and modeling good habits. Remember to be kind: Being nice isn’t always easy, but it’s worth it.
When you show kindness in your words and actions, it can bring people together or tear them apart – so choose carefully what you say to others and think before speaking out loud.
It might feel strange at first but over time it’ll become natural! Kindness has nothing to do with whether you agree with someone else’s opinion or position.
You can have serious disagreements without criticizing each other or ignoring one another altogether.
People who disagree on an issue can still respect each other as individuals even if they don’t see eye-to-eye on every issue.
5) Encourage positive peer interactions
One way that you can encourage positive peer interactions is by taking a few minutes at the beginning of each class period to call out someone who has done something good and then ask them how they’re feeling.
Let them take over and share their thoughts with the rest of the class. This helps build a sense of community among all of your students.
Plus, it lets kids know that there’s no need to be shy when they have something to say, even if it’s just I feel happy!
6) Use inclusive language:
The words we use matter. Use inclusive language like we instead of I or make sure pronouns are clear so that everyone feels included in discussions. Give feedback honestly, Feedback should be honest and constructive, not overly critical or patronizing.
6) Promote a positive classroom environment
The most important thing you can do is establish a trusting relationship with each of your students. This will give them an environment where they feel safe and are open to learning new things.
Here are six tips that can help you build relationships in the classroom.
✓ Spend time getting to know every student before they start coming to your class.
✓ Focus on one or two ways you can make their day better when they come into class – it could be something as simple as asking what their favorite book is or what their favorite type of music is so that you know what kind of activities or discussions might interest them.