Often teachers are told to spend more time teaching and less time creating relationships. In fact, some teachers are told not to have relationships with their students at all. I totally disagree and I believe most of the research in brain regulation, learning and good decision-making tells us that positive relationships are significant to the ability of students to learn and grow.
In a recent article by Theresa Pfister, a PH.D. student at the University of Virginia, she reflects on the research on this topic. Here is a quote from her article:
“Research has firmly established that positive teacher-student relationships—those defined by respect, support, and care—contribute to positive short- and long-term outcomes for students. One study found that at-risk students who had more positive relationships with teachers also had more positive outcomes in social, behavioral, engagement, and academic realms. Other research showed that positive relationships in kindergarten supported behavioral and academic performance eight years later.
In this article she continues to describe the positive aspects of relationship-building and its effect on learning efficacy in students. It is clear that positive relationships are essential for students to be able to trust and learn from their teachers.
She ends the article with this quote:
“The positive relationships you build with your students are key to a supportive, successful classroom.”
I can’t agree more. We have found that classrooms where students have a strong, positive relationship with their teachers are more positive, clear, focused and effective in achieving their academic goals. It is also a safer and more enjoyable environment for school students and staff.