What is Rapport and Why Should You Establish it?
Anyone can be a teacher but not every teacher is likable or caring. I found in my experience as a student, especially as a child, I would find myself dreading the classes with the teachers that had bad attitudes and would look forward to the ones who not only kept the class interesting but showed true interest in the student's lives. The truly talented teachers would take examples of scenarios people had discussed from their personal lives and use it as a tool in their teaching strategies.
This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Priscilla L. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.
The only thing that separated these two types of teachers is their way of establishing rapport with the students. The teacher that I would not look forward to would not say hi or goodbye, all he would do is wait until the entire class filed in for the lesson and get started on the subject, which would usually consist of him writing on the whiteboard, asking us to take notes, and assign us worksheets and exams after every lesson. The teacher that I was excited to see would start of the class by going down the room and asking questions about the student's day and what observations they made about their day, then they would relate it to a specific discussion that we were going to do, which engaged us into the subject instead of giving us the information outright. After that, they would base activity on the needs of the students and what the class, in particular, was struggling with.
Establishing rapport was vital for creating a positive classroom environment that would allow the student to learn more freely and more easily. Another, and perhaps more important reason, why establishing rapport with the students is that it makes them feel comfortable to ask questions. Asking questions can be particularly difficult for students who are socially shy or self-conscious. However, when a student feels comfortable with the teacher the fear of failure is reduced. Even if a student is scared of being wrong in front of a classroom they won't be afraid to ask the teacher for help in private because they know if they make a mistake the teacher will be understanding and not judgmental.
The biggest impact establishing rapport would have on me as an individual student was that it shattered any idea of a hierarchy. Yes, the teacher would need to be a disciplinarian once in a while but they were never disrespectful and because they made a habit of establishing rapport with us every day, not just the first day as introductions. Establishing rapport meant that the teacher was learning with us and growing with us as opposed to being the teacher and therefore better than the student.
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For example, I had one teacher in seventh grade in my English Literature class, he was a great teacher and I learned a lot from his classroom, but from the very beginning he was a tough no-excuses type of teacher, and me being a sensitive pre-teen always feared what he would do to my grade if I stepped out of line. One day I fell ill but was so nervous about him lowering my grade if I didn't turn in my assignment in time that I biked to school that day with a fever to turn in the assignment in the office. The next time I went to class he was distraught at the thought of me having to come to school while I was sick. In reality, the issue was his lack of building rapport with me. He didn't make it clear to me that he could be lenient if I put in the effort. I never realized what lesson that taught me until now. When I am a teacher I will make it clear to my students that it is okay to slip up and make mistakes as long as you put in the effort to learn.
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