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How Teacher-Student Rapport Affects the Overall Success of Students

How Teacher-Student Rapport Affects the Overall Success of Students | ITTT | TEFL Blog

Establishing a positive rapport with their students is one of the most critical factors of creating a successful classroom environment. While establishing rapport is a process and takes longer than a single class session to do, it all starts with the introduction to the classroom. A teacher who enters a classroom of students with an energetic attitude and expresses their enthusiasm for teaching and eagerness to get to know the students is likely to have much greater success with their students than a teacher who does not positively present themselves. This is not to say that all teachers must be extremely energetic and outgoing in personality to be effective, but there are ways for people of even more timid personalities to demonstrate their encouraging nature and desire to help students learn. The students’ relationship with their teacher is one of the most defining factors in determining their ability to be successful in a course.

This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Annika E. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.

First Impression

On the first day of class, teachers should get to know the students by name and know some information about their potentially varying language and cultural backgrounds. The classroom may consist of students of a multitude of nationalities and English language exposure and ability. If a teacher gets to know this information from the beginning of the course, they will be able to adapt their lesson plans to meet the individual needs of the students in their classroom, therefore making their lessons more effective. In a situation of a multilingual classroom, it is highly likely that the students’ only common language will be English, so the teacher must be encouraging towards the students to practice their English and be understanding if they make mistakes. Ridiculing students for speaking or writing mistakes is certainly not a method of establishing good rapport in a classroom.

While it may take some time, especially if the students are shy about speaking English, participation should be encouraged and the teacher should establish the fact that not only is the teacher expected to respect the students, and the students to respect the teacher, but the students are also expected to respect one another. This statement should signify to the students that the teacher wants to create a welcoming and friendly environment in the classroom and should therefore eventually allow students to feel comfortable speaking English no matter their level of proficiency.

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Rapport consequences

If we consider the potential results of establishing positive rapport versus the consequences of not establishing rapport, there will be definitive differences in levels of success in the students. Students who gain confidence in the classroom when they speak because the teacher and their fellow classmates are positive and non-judgmental are likely to have great success in the class because not only are they actively practicing speaking in English, but they feel confident when they are doing so, which leads to confidence in other areas such as reading and writing. If a student is made fun of when they make a mistake, or if the teacher seems disinterested when they are speaking, they are less likely to want to speak out in class another time and will, therefore, be getting less practice speaking and will not have the confidence to want to do so in the future due to fear of being ridiculed.

students in the ESL class

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The teacher-student classroom rapport extends beyond just speaking activities in the classroom and should be incorporated into all areas of learning. The teacher should take an interest in their students by getting to know what their personal interests are and incorporating these interests into the lessons being taught. The motivation of students to want to learn information will be much higher if they can discuss a topic that interests them instead of a generic topic that is of no interest to them. Additionally, the teacher should know the students’ learning styles and adapt lessons to fit how their students learn information most effectively. A teacher with rapport will attempt activities and reflect on the effectiveness of these activities after they are completed and learn from them for future lessons. If students excel in one activity and show great understanding, but struggle with another and don’t seem to understand the goal of the activity, the teacher should take notice and try to improve on that activity instead of forcing it upon the students when it is not having a positive effect on their learning.

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An important part of establishing rapport is being receptive to the students as individuals and not as simply a generic group of people.

Tailoring lessons and activities to students’ abilities, interests, and necessary areas of improvement are all ways to show that you as the teacher are listening to your students and that you have their best interest in mind when teaching them. If students sense that the teacher is fully on their side and wants them to do their best, the students will be very likely to want to try their absolute best in the classroom and be highly motivated to learn and be successful in the class. In contrast, if the students sense that the teacher is not being flexible to accommodate their personal needs and that the teacher is more interested in rushing through lessons to get them done rather than teach them effectively, the students will be less likely to try to the best of their ability because they do not feel that the teacher is fully invested in their understanding of the English language.

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Overall, the teacher-student rapport is capable of having an extremely positive effect on the students’ learning throughout a course if the rapport is established early and is positive and encouraging. Teacher encouragement leads to student confidence and motivation, which ultimately leads to a greater understanding of the English language for the student.

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