*As featured in a past edition of one of our magazines*
Connecting With Kids
A Dozen Suggestions For Building Good Rapport With Students
Remember the first time a student saw you in the grocery store? The child probably peered into your shopping cart with wonder, amazed that teachers
buy toilet paper and breakfast cereal.
The idea that teachers are people, too, oftentimes is a revelation for students. But helping them see you as a person can also help them better
relate to you—and learn from you. Here are a few suggestions to try.
- Share your childhood experiences. Did you struggle with spelling? Which multiplication tables were tricky for you? Your students will benefit from knowing that you also have strengths and weaknesses.
- Share pictures of yourself as a baby. Have students bring in baby pictures of themselves, with their names written on the back of the photos. Post the photos (along with a baby picture of yourself) on a bulletin board and number them. Also post a class list nearby, adding your name. Then have students try to guess who's who. They'll love trying to figure out which beautiful baby is you!
- Talk about your family. Share significant events, both happy and sad.
- Keep a family picture on your desk. Tape a list of your family members' names on the back or on the frame to help students remember who's who.
- Share your achievements. Sharing your successes gives you a chance to tell students about the specific skills you needed to succeed—perhaps skills they're learning right now. Plus your students will be proud of you!
- Share experiences, pictures, and lessons from your travels. Whether it's an exotic summer vacation or a midyear weekend trip, telling students about these experiences can help you make connections.
- Share humor. The class that laughs together, learns together. Try these ideas:
- Post cartoons on your bulletin boards.
- Devote the last five minutes before lunch to "joke time," when students tell or read a favorite joke to the class.
- If one of your students makes a humorous comment, laugh with the class (as long as the humor isn't directed at a particular person, of course).
- Share your foibles and frustrations. Seeing how you deal with life's ups and downs can help your students learn how to weather the bumpy spots—and learn from them, too.
- Admit your mistakes. Did you spell a word wrong on the overhead? Miss marking an incorrect answer on a test? Forget to turn in the lunch count? Admit it! Say, "Wow, my brain must not be well connected today!" Then fix your mistake and go on.
- Let your students know when you aren't feeling well or are having a tough day. No one can be happy and healthy all of the time. If you aren't feeling well or are having a crummy day, explain to your students that you might be short on patience or might need to leave the classroom suddenly.
- If a serious situation comes up, talk with your students about it. If you're leaving school to attend a funeral or if a tragedy strikes your
community, take time to answer students' questions as completely as possible. If one of their classmates is affected by a tragedy, talk honestly about appropriate behavior around the victim, and model acceptable questions or comments. (Of course you'll want to work closely with your school counselor, too.) You'll learn even more about students' personal stories and topics that they might need help dealing with.
- Eat together. Sharing a meal allows you and your students to talk about what's going on in your lives. Try these ideas:
- Pick a day of the week to eat in your classroom with your students.
- If you don't already, periodically eat with your students in the lunchroom.
- Occasionally order pizza and have a lunch party.
©1998 The Education Center, Inc. ⋅ The Mailbox® Teacher