Improving students’ relationships with teachers has important, positive and long-lasting implications for students’ academic and social development, according to the American Psychological Association.
Solely improving students’ relationships with their teachers will not produce gains in achievement (see "High quality academic instruction"). However, those students who have close, positive and supportive relationships with their teachers will attain higher levels of achievement than those students with more conflictual relationships. If a student feels a personal connection to a teacher, experiences frequent communication with a teacher, and receives more guidance and praise than criticism from the teacher, then the student is likely to become more trustful of that teacher, show more engagement in the academic content presented, display better classroom behavior, and achieve at higher levels academically. Positive teacher-student relationships draw students into the process of learning and promote their desire to learn (given that the content material of the class is engaging and age appropriate).
This emerging body of research is intruiging.
Having seen so many examples of good student-teacher relationships over the decades, it is a joy to look at the current results among peers who cherish these learning experiences many years later.
Teachers who foster positive relationships with their students create classroom environments more conducive to learning and meet students’ developmental, emotional and academic needs. Here are some concrete examples of closeness between a teacher and a student: 1) A seven-year-old girl who is experiencing divorce at home goes to her former first grade teacher in the mornings for a hug of encouragement, even though she is now in the second grade; 2) A fourth grade boy who is struggling in math shows comfort in admitting to his teacher that he needs help with multiplying and dividing fractions; 3) A middle school girl experiences bullying from other students and approaches her social studies teacher to discuss it because she trusts that the teacher will listen and help without making her feel socially inept.In this age of very diverse learners and learning styles, positive teacher-student relationships have different looks and feels in the classroom. Individuality + diversity + = simple + complex.
And of course, there is is theory, there is research, and then there is the bottom line: practice.
A lot of anecdotes swim around in my "institutional memory" as a student and teacher. So it would be a rich experience to have fellow educators share on this topic.
How do you develop teaching practices that are conducive to high student achievement and compatible with the personal style of you and your students?