Developing Student Trust

Learning is a social act.  What this means is that your students’ ability and desire to learn from you is inextricably tied to your personal relationship with them.  If a student feels your concern and care for them, it makes them want to learn with you. For this reason, it is absolutely crucial to build a trusting relationship with students from the moment they enter your classroom on the first day.  

Read on to find out some great strategies for building trusting student/teacher relationships.

Get to Know Students as More than Learners

When I was teaching 8th grade, I learned all of my 200 students’ names by the second day (This took a lot of practice and looking at photos the first evening after the first day of school).  The students were shocked and appreciative of the effort that I took to remember them, and building relationships from that point forward was a lot easier.  While memorizing this many names is not easily feasible for most people, that doesn’t mean that you can’t show your students you care in other ways.  Find out what their passions are outside of school and ask them for updates on them.  Attend school plays, sports games, and dances.  You will begin to learn about your students’ lives, and in turn they will see you are more than a content teacher.

Be Friendly (Not their Friend)

Some educators advise new teachers “don’t smile until Christmas,” so that they can establish control in their classroom.  In my opinion, adhering to this adage just makes a teacher seem grouchy.  A teacher can be clear in their behavioral expectations while still being friendly.  It is important to maintain a clear boundary between friendly a friend, however.  Your student needs you to be a responsible adult figure in their life, not another friend.  Don’t try to “be cool” or popular to win approval from students.

Be a Stable Role Model in their Lives

Unfortunately, many students lives are filled with instability and chaos.  They need someone they can rely on to be there for them day in day out, and often this has not been the case for them.  Show your student that you will be there for them, and honor all of your promises.  Some students whose trust has been broken by adults previously in their lives may be more resistant to trusting you initially.  Do not give up, and tell them you will not give up.  Prove through your actions that you will be there and that you care.  Model healthy emotional patterns and respect for the child.  Your ability to break through to a child like this will positively impact their ability to form positive relationships with everyone else in their lives as well in the future.

Be A Good Listener, and Know When to Step In to Offer Assistance

Sometimes students just need someone to hear them and affirm how they are feeling.  They want moral support when they are having a rough day/week/year.  Since they spend most of their day at school, finding someone whom they trust is critical to the development of their self-esteem and resilience.  Most of the time, the act of listening supportively and actively is sufficient, but sometimes your student needs you to offer advice or even step in to help them through a tricky situation.  If they are being harmed, remember you are a mandated reporter, and that it is ethically and legally imperative that you report this to child services immediately.  Other situations are not so clear cut.  If you are unsure about the best way to help a child with a situation in school or external to school, reach out to us here at EdCourageMentor- we’re here for you!

Build Children Up

And remember, be positive, celebrate students’ victories and growth, and encourage them.  Isn’t this why you became a teacher after all, to positively impact lives?

Do you have any other ways you’ve found effective to build student trust?  Share in the comments below.


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