Rapport as a Center of Teacher-Student Relationships
In my life, I had the opportunity to work in several different jobs. I use to work as a physical education teacher, swimming coach for kids, fitness instructor, supplement salesman, and many other roles. In all those jobs and also in personal relationships establishing and building rapport was from the critical importance, and being an English language teacher and establishing rapport with the students is no different.
Why Rapport is Important?
The answer is simple. If someone likes us, respects us and trusts us they are more likely to be motivated to do what we are asking them to do. In teaching English that would mean that they will be motivated to come to our class, they will feel comfortable with us as their teachers, they will pay more attention in class and all that will contribute to the effectiveness of our teaching. Also, it enhances students' receptivity to what is being taught and elevates overall enjoyment of the course.
Also read: How long does a TEFL course take?
Ways to Establish Rapport
Now the question is: “How to establish and build rapport”? Well, from my experience and things I have learned from different books courses and self-study in the past, some techniques and tips can help in building rapport. Most of these things come naturally or at least I think it should come naturally to a good teacher, coach, salesman or any person that deals with other people in any way.
The first thing, in my opinion, is ALWAYS SMILE. The reason for that is simple… no one is more comfortable to listen to someone with a grumpy face and to be scared and intimidated then to listen to someone who seems friendly and has a genuine smile.
The second thing could be to learn students’ names. This will show that we as teachers care about every individual and that we know who they are.
Third, always arriving at class early and staying late. This way we could chat with our students. For adult students this shows that are true professionals, and for kids to “high five” all of them or make some special handshake just for them would be cool.
Fourth, it is ok to crack an appropriate joke now and then and to have a sense of humor. This way students will be more relaxed and more likely to ask a question if they need something.
These are just a few examples of how to build rapport, but there is much more. Making eye contact, showing passion and enthusiasm for your teaching job, reward student comments and questions with verbal praise, learn something about our students' interests, hobbies, and aspirations are also some examples of how to build rapport.
I don’t know is this against some school policies, but if not; in my opinion, a very good idea would be to create and open online social networks like a Facebook group that could be used as a forum for teachers and students. This will create better rapport in class and also students could communicate in written form with each other and they would work on their reading and writing skills “without knowing”. Building rapport is all about the development of a positive relationship between the teacher and the students. Good rapport with students can make a big difference.
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