The secret to effective student-teacher

Career & Education

The secret to effective student-teacher

Dr Karla Hylton

Sunday, September 01, 2019

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School is just about to resume and some parents and students may be anxious about the new school year, the prospect of a new school, and new teachers.

Skilled teachers know that a positive relationships between teacher and student is a powerful factor in learning outcomes. Research shows that teacher-student relationships which embody care, trust, mutual respect and knowledge lead both good social and academic outputs.

These positive relations also minimise classroom disruptions and reduce stress for all parties. After all, we all have the human need to feel cared for and valued by the significant persons in our lives.

To teach effectively one must not only be armed with theoretical information, but one must also be capable of maximising the learning potential of each student in the classroom. For some teachers, this ability comes naturally; for others it may come through effort. But not to worry, these deficiencies can be corrected by implementing the simple strategies below:

1) Communicate positive expectations

Perhaps the most impactful effect of good student-teacher relationships is a teacher's expectation of student performance. The effects result in dramatic changes in the confidence and self-esteem of students. This goes for both the weaker and stronger students. Tell your students directly that you believe ALL of them have the ability and potential to perform well. Your belief will be an inspiration for their success. Negativity will only serve to defeat the goal of academic excellence.

2) Know your students

Get to know your students individually; find out their interests and listen to them, build rapport. Each student will have a different personality, different experiences and different challenges, each requiring varying approaches to the business of learning.

3) Show respect to earn respect

Students are people too, and so we must be careful that in applying discipline we are not condescending or sarcastic in our remarks. Be fair and if possible, discipline privately. Do not shame the student; keep your voice even tempered. This provides students with a safe learning environment where they feel free to ask questions and to ask for clarification. Always remember that respect is reciprocal. Occasionally, there may be that bad day when you the educator may lose your cool and slip up. An apology goes a long way. After you have put yourself together, simply say “I was wrong”. It demonstrates your humanness and reaps respect.

4) Sincere praise

Do not underestimate the power of acknowledgement. Recognise good behaviour, improved academic performance, effort and excellence. No matter the level of learning or attainment of grades, find positive remarks to boost your students' confidence and morale. Apart from words of approval, a simple smile works wonders. Praise can boost a student's motivation, which is pivotal to academic achievement.

5) Support extra-curricular activities

Despite the busy schedules of teachers, make time to support activities outside of school, even if you are not directly involved. Attend as many of these happenings as you can, for example, sporting events, plays, concerts, dance recitals, etc. When students see you supporting them, their appreciation for you increases.

6) Small talk

A five-minute chat at the beginning or end of the class helps to build connections. Without getting too personal, you can share and you can ask them questions which are outside of the lesson. Ask them about their day, or ask about the summer holidays, but always be sincere. You can even discuss current events. These “mini discussions” foster good relations.

7) Equal opportunities

Do not play favourites. Present students with equal opportunities to participate in class discussions as well as answering questions. Do not pick on only a few students to answer questions. Equanimity will improve student-teacher relationships. Also, desist from singling out the 'brighter students' to correct a wrong answer. The entire class needs to participate in such a conversation.

I hope you found some of these tips useful, as the development of positive student-teacher relationships is a fundamental aspect of high-quality teaching and enhanced student learning. When a trusting and caring classroom is established the teacher also benefits, because teaching becomes more pleasurable. Therefore, I encourage all teachers to become a partner rather than an adversary with all your students, irrespective of differing personalities and/or learning ability. Ensure that the classroom is collaborative, and that growth takes place not only academically but also emotionally. By so doing, you are ensuring that your students are on the path for a successful future.

DrKarla Hylton is a lecturer of biology at The University of the West Indies and a private biology and chemistry tutor. She is the author of Yes! You Can Help Your Child Achieve Academic Success and Complete Chemistry for Caribbean High Schools . Reach her at (876) 564-1347, or .

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