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Building Relationships with Students

Building meaningful relationships with students is important… if not more important than the curriculum you teach every day.

Here are a few things to keep in mind, or ideas for additional ways on how to build rapport with your students.


Learn student names (names are part of our identities!) and use them. Say hello to each individual every morning as they enter your classroom. Say hello in the hallway, in the cafeteria, on the playground, at bus duty… help make them to feel seen.

Be respectful. Treat students how you want to be treated.

Know that as the teacher, you are planting seeds. Some seeds grow faster than others… some in days, others in years.

  • Remember: Maslow > Bloom

Presume competence. Never assume a student doesn’t know, or is incompetent.

  • If the child is nonverbal or is having a hard time describing or explaining, help the child describe or explain.

Beneath every behavior there is a feeling. And beneath each feeling is a need. And when we meet that need rather than focus on the behavior, we begin to deal with the cause, not the symptom.

Ashleigh Warner

Give a student space, but let the child know you are here when he/she is ready. Be there when things are tough too.

Listen to your students. And listen to understand what they’re saying, not just to reply.

Each day is a fresh start… that means a clean slate each and every day.

  • This is so important to remember as a special education teacher too! No two days are the same, and whatever happened yesterday (good or bad) doesn’t matter today. Every day is a new start.

Ask questions. Explain things. We can’t expect students to behave or act in a certain manner if they first don’t know how to.

  • Again, don’t assume that a child knows HOW to act a certain way. Knowing a written rule and knowing HOW to do or perform something are two different things. (Example: you may have a child who knows that 5 is a number, but has no idea how to count to 5, make 5 or what 5 means.)

Admit when you, the teacher, are wrong. Apologize when you, for example, should’ve handled a situation differently or made a different, better decision.

Criticize a child privately, not in front of an audience. This goes for praise too.

  • Never let a student leave your classroom feeling defeated or devalued, or like they are not a valued or welcome part of your classroom.

What additional advice to you have for other teachers to help build rapport with their students? Tell us in the comments!

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I'm a special education teacher, presenter, curriculum writer, and educational blogger behind Mrs. D's Corner.
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