6 Ways To Build Rapport With Students

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Hanna Beech

Hanna Beech has been teaching for ten years and has a range of experience across Key Stages 1 and 2 in a large Primary School in Kent. She is a phase leader for Years 3 and 4, and also leads on teaching and learning for...
Read more about Hanna Beech

How do you build rapport with students?

Building rapport with students is a vital time saver for all involved.

Human beings enjoy connecting socially and emotionally with other human beings, and children are no exception to this.

Once you have developed a successful rapport with an individual, this mutual respect and trust means that you can work towards a common goal effectively. Quite simply, rapport fuels and develops learning.

Here are my top 6 ways to build a real and robust rapport with pupils.

6 Ways To Build Rapport

1. Ask them questions

Getting to know your pupils is key. If you take the time to talk to them, you will be able to build a better understanding of who they are and what their goals are.

2. Watch them

Maybe a little creepy, but observing your pupils subtly is fascinating.

  • How do they interact with others?
  • What is their reaction to a lack of challenge or to something they find tricky?
  • What motivates them?

Use your observations to inform the type of relationship you build with them.

3. Tell them about yourself

The pupils need to see that you are a real human, with hobbies and family and pets and mistakes, just like them.

4. Exert the 3F’s: fair, firm and most of all – fun

From my experience, I’ve found that pupils tend to prefer a certain element of predictability when it comes to the three F’s.

I will be fair, make sure there is fun, but be firm if attitudes are not as they ought to be.

5. Help

Let them know you are here to serve (yes, I said serve) and support their learning.

Controversial for some maybe, but I do I act like a waitress whilst pupils complete their tasks; moving skilfully about my classroom, asking pupils if they need anything and getting feedback on their learning.

Being truly available to them will let them know they are able to rely on you.

6. Keep it real, man

There is always that one pupil that you feel you might ‘lose’ if you are honest with them, but kids are humans. They have instincts and opinions, and they form first impressions – just like the rest of us do!

One of two things will happen if you sugar-coat things for them in attempt to keep them ‘onside’:

(i) they will never receive the feedback they need and as a result will not make significant changes.

(ii) they will see right through it, feel that they can manipulate you and take advantage of this. Respect and rapport can be destroyed this way.

Be totally honest with them.

  • If they are failing due to poor attendance, tell them.
  • If they are coasting and could do better, tell them.
  • If they are trying their best, but things are not progressing, tell them.

Once you are honest with them, together, you can find ways to make improvements.

And finally….

Whichever ways you choose to build rapport, it will be you that reaps the benefits too.

Students whom you have a good rapport with will be more inclined to listen to, trust and work for you making your job easier and more enjoyable.

In the long run, they will become adults who remember you and the connection you formed with them, passing on positive views of school-life to their children too. Win, win!

Relationship building is one of the 6 habits of being a talented teacher and the number one secret to classroom management.

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