5 Reasons Why Student-Teacher Relationships are Important

5 Reasons Why Student-Teacher Relationships are Important (thank you to albert.io)

Relationship building with students has been shown to be instrumental in student success, and it may be one of the most underrated skills for educators today. Here are a few reasons why student-teacher relationships are important:

1. Building positive relationships with students can lead to improved academic results.  This is a big end-goal for many educators, whose jobs include guiding students to fulfilling their academic potentials. Now relationships alone do not guarantee that a student will perform better—they still need engaging and appropriate content instruction. But research has shown that more positive student-teacher relationships are associated with higher levels of student engagement in the short- and long-term for a variety of factors (attendance, academic grades, fewer disruptive behaviors, etc).

2. Feeling safe and comfortable can motivate both students and teachers to continue logging in to class.    Students clearly have more fun in a classroom where they have a personal connection with the instructor—it turns out that the same applies to teachers. A study in the European Journal of Psychology and Education found student-teacher relationships to be a strong predictor for increased joy and lower feelings of anxiety amongst teachers.

3. Having strong relationships with your students can make interactions with parents much easier.   Nobody wants to show up to a parent-teacher conference and have nothing to say about somebody’s child. By being genuinely interested in your students and planning activities to strengthen those relationships, phone calls home will be much easier and more enjoyable. Parents will appreciate that you know their children well, and they will be more likely to trust you and implement your feedback. Go over how to conduct virtual parent-teacher conferences in this post you may find helpful.

4. It can boost good behavior in teens for up to 4 years.  A study by the University of Cambridge found that having a positive relationship with a teacher around the age of 10-11 years old contributes to “the development of ‘prosocial’ behaviours such as cooperation and altruism, as well as significantly reduce problem classroom behaviours such as aggression and oppositional behaviour.” Even more, those effects could last for years after student-teacher interactions, proving to be just as effective as anti-bullying initiatives at developing adolescents in a holistic manner.

5. Positive student-teacher relationships have huge academic benefits for our most vulnerable students.   This means that focusing on relationships promotes equity in your classroom. The students who are most at-risk—those who are racially, socially, or economically marginalized or have learning disabilities—benefit the most from the quality of relationships they form with teachers. When Stanford psychologists used “belonging” interventions on middle school students at the beginning of the school year, a time when students most worry about belonging to their communities, the exercises helped first-generation and minority students find greater academic success.

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