Why TEFL Teachers Should Work on Establishing Rapport
Establishing rapport with students is a crucial part of any successful teacher because it allows teachers to teach their students more effectively and in different ways. Rapport is defined as, "the ability to maintain harmonious relationships based on affinity...is more colloquially thought of as what happens when two people “click”—they connect, interact well, and respond to each other favorably" (Weimer, facultyfocus.com).
This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Dominic D. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.
This "click" is the ability of a teacher to connect with a student to ensure that motivation is always kept high. If a teacher takes the time to learn a students' hobbies, interests, and personality traits then the student will be more comfortable with the teacher. For example, during a student teaching at Scranton Middle School in Cleveland, Ohio, I had experience with how rapport can drastically change how a student interacts with teachers. During this time students were working on a project that required them to research a humanitarian and then dress up as that person to present their topic to the student body.
The student I observed during this project had a difficult time deciding what to research. Over the next few weeks, I discovered that this student enjoyed kung fu movies and the famous Chinese movie star, Bruce Lee. Together we found out that the late Bruce Lee's wife founded The Bruce Lee Foundation to help underprivileged students find success in life. This student also had difficulty finding a costume for his presentation and I gave him a pair of replica aviators like the star of the famous movie used to wear during shoots. This experience resulted in this particular student being highly motivated to complete his project on time and being willing to communicate with the teacher most of the time.
Multiple factors can influence how effective a teacher is at building rapport with students but the most important according to Weimer, "Respect. Teachers and students must show respect for each other, for the learning process, and for the institution where it is occurring". Respect for teachers might include respecting boundaries and privacy. While for students it might be respecting the teacher and institutional rules.
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Another important factor is open communication as Weimer states, "Faculty must be honest. There needs to be consistency between what faculty say and what they do". Teachers must be honest with students as to what they expect of them and also, the expectations of the institution as well to ensure that a clear line of communication is open. By taking steps to build rapport, teachers will see an increase in student motivation to complete tasks, communication and an increase in student comfort in the classroom. While building rapport alone isn't enough to increase how effective a lesson is, it does help to boost class morale and satisfaction in completing assigned tasks.
Teachers, when building rapport, should always maintain a degree of approachability as students must first be comfortable before deciding to meet a teacher after or before school for extra help or to even discuss other matters. To effectively build rapport a teacher should learn to have a sense of humor and perhaps also be self-deprecating once in a while. Perhaps the most important aspect of building rapport is how a student perceives a teacher on the first day. First impressions mean mountains to a student so a teacher would do well to call each student by name the first day, shake hands with each student and always show positive emotion with students.
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Building rapport is an extremely important tool for teachers to utilize in the classroom and can drastically change how students behave in a classroom.
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