5 Reasons Why Establishing Rapport in a Classroom Is Important
Do teachers’ interactions with students matter? After all, a teacher’s role in the classroom is to facilitate the transfer of knowledge or skill in such a manner that a learner can accomplish a specific outcome. Is it necessary for a teacher to know students’ weekend plans or when Sally is going to take her driver’s test? Does know students’ interests give a teacher an advantage when it comes to selecting the methodology and techniques, he/she selects in teaching subject-specific knowledge or computer skills in a classroom? If the answer to the above questions is yes, then how can a teacher best establish rapport in the classroom that leads to effective teaching?
This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Elizabeth F. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.
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1. Comforting students on the first day
Every class has the first day. On that first day, rapport building begins at the classroom door. I believe teachers should stand outside the classroom door greeting students with familiar faces in the hall with a hello, quick questions concerning their activities since you last met, and an invitation to stop by and catch up. New students should be greeted with a welcoming smile and an invitation to come into the classroom. Instructions should be given on seating arrangements. When a student walks into the classroom for the very first time, they can easily be overwhelmed. Use words, facial expressions, and hand gestures to reduce anxiety and increase the comfort level of students.
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2. Creating classroom culture
As the bell rings, class begins. At this point, a teacher can begin creating class culture and rapport with the students by sharing a short biographical sketch of his/her life. This introduction, followed by an icebreaker activity, allows the teacher to begin to learn about the students’ lives and interests. There are a number of these activities online and creating a computer folder for student favorites is a good practice. As a teacher of computer skills, the first step is explaining the computer conduct code before a second activity. This activity was specifically designed to further identify individual student interests and gauge computer aptitude. Depending on the number of students and class length, class time is usually close to the end. When the bell rings signaling the end of class, dismiss your students with a friendly goodbye and let them know you are looking forward to seeing them in the next class meeting.
3. Creating a positive learning environment
The first steps toward establishing rapport with the students have been taken. How does that translate into effective teaching? First, students enter the classroom feeling confident. They have been welcomed. They know where to go and what is expected of them. The teacher continues to build on the activities of the first day and explains daily class procedures. These procedures are practiced until students are familiar with them, thus reducing anxiety and building confidence. An environment has been created where students are ready to learn.
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4. Helping students to achieve their goals
Next, the lesson plans students find engaging should be created. Information students share for first day activities as well as ongoing teacher-student verbal interactions lead to increased rapport and better lesson planning. A wealth of information is now available to the teacher for not only selecting lesson materials but identifying teaching techniques to be used during class. Lesson plans created with student interests in mind lead to a greater degree of motivation. When students engage in the lesson on a higher-level, learning and retention of the concept are better achieved.
5. Controlling the classroom
Finally, is the management of the classroom. It is well documented that fewer disruptions occur in classrooms when teachers have taken time to build relationships with students. While it is not the only factor in limiting the number and severity of disruptions, building rapport with students is critical in reducing the amount of time a teacher spends on discipline.
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In closing, teaching is challenging and at times can be difficult. Getting students to the point where teachers can begin the process of facilitating the transfer of knowledge to another individual to achieve a specific goal is often a daunting task. This is true for a wide variety of reasons, many of them outside the control of the teacher. One of the most effective tools a teacher has is the ability to establish rapport with the students. Gaining the cooperation of students through relationships to actively engage in the learning process allows for student success at the highest level.
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