By Scott Ragin
Improving relations with students in college or university has important long-lasting implications for both students’ social and academic development, as shown by scholar studies. As class sizes in higher education establishments continue to rise, many students fail to connect with educators because they neglect this opportunity to improve their academics. It is a known fact that positive teacher-student relations bring a lot of benefits, including more effective work, valuable personal assistance, and better overall performance. It is therefore necessary to attempt to connect with the educator regardless of the size of the class and other circumstances because it has a major impact on the academic career.
Building rapport is one of the best ways to achieve this task. It is defined as a state of harmonious understanding with another person that allows greater and easier communication. Simply saying, rapport is getting on great with someone and it is generally established by having things in common because it makes it easier for both parties to engage and maintain the conversation and relationship.
There are a number of rapport techniques that can be employed to develop a positive teacher-student relationship. Let’s review them.
- Polite Communication
When meeting the students for the first time, many professors tend to initiate small talk that often gets elevated to medium talk by using uncomfortable or too personal questions. For example, when the professor talks about his or her hometown and starts asking the students the same thing, he or she might refer to some stereotypes when discussing the hometowns of students.
To avoid making mistakes like this, use non-threatening and ‘safe topics’ for small talk. For example, you can talk about some shared experiences but avoid asking direct or personal questions about the students. Remember, being polite goes a long way, so it is better to not make anybody uncomfortable or develop a bad perception of you.
- Try to incorporate humor
Do you have some jokes that could be considered appropriate to use in front of an auditorium full of students? You should definitely try to use them, especially if your humor skills were appreciated by the students before. It is a great rapport strategy because laughing together contributes to creating harmony among people even when they met a few minutes ago. However, there are some rules to follow here, too.
For example, it is best to joke about your previous experiences with the students during the same courses, it can be relevant for current students. For example, if a previous-year student (do not mention any names), has done some mistake that can be joked about in an appropriate way, go ahead. Also, try not to make jokes about the current students.
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- Passion and Enthusiasm in Teaching
Students find learning more engaging and interesting when the educator shows his or her passion and enthusiasm for the course. This is an indirect rapport technique because it involves an initial focus on the subject rather than students. In this case, they begin to perceive the learning material as more important because it can be exciting for them, says Mia Jenkins, a teaching expert from aussiessay. If the teacher is so excited about the content, why shouldn’t they be, right? As the result, the educator can receive more feedback from the students and create a rapport because they can identify their own passions about the subjects and communicate them to the professor.
When they become enthusiastic about the content, their academic performance improves because they want to know more information about the exciting and interesting content. Well, what can we say, enthusiasm is contagious and classroom is not an exception from this rule.
This is an essential element of any rapport because it allows to see the situation from other person’s point of view. Given that rapport is all about finding shared topics and similarities between people, being empathetic works great to connect with others, and the same could be said about the relationships between professors and students.
Try to show that you understand the struggles of students and inform them that you see what they mean. For example, a student can be late with assignment because of part-time work, but instead of giving him bad grades you can have a conversation where you get to know the situation. If the student really lacks time to study, give some recommendations and more time to complete assignments. Viewing a situation from another viewpoint thus can really help to be a good educator and a good friend.
A rapport with students and be built and maintained using many ways. Politeness, humor, enthusiasm, and empathy are among the best direct and non-direct rapport techniques that will definitely help you to get the relationship with your students started on the right foot. Remember, establishing a rapport is an art and skill that should be learned and mastered, so do not be discouraged even if you are not known for your communication skills. One last thing: do not forget to smile!
Scott Ragin is an online tutor and experienced high school educator. Scott always tries to create all the necessary conditions for the development of a well-integrated personality in his students. He loves guiding other people through their teaching practice and provides assignment help at Aussiewriter. Feel free to contact him at Facebook.