Teacher-Student Relationship

Teacher-student relationships are crucial for the success of both teachers and students. As part of classroom management, such relationships are the most significant factor in determining a teacher's work as successful.

It is vital that students respect the teacher as a professional. At the beginning of their career, teachers often face difficulties in establishing a strong and healthy relationship, as they are very close to the students' age and lack experience. Sometimes inexperienced teachers establish too close relationship with students, which can later generate various problems in classroom discipline and education. Such relationships can make both students and the other teachers lose their respect.

Effective teaching does not require that all students like the teacher; however it is crucial that they all respect him or her. Teachers also do not need to like all of their students; they just need to be professionals and leaders. Students do not need to be friends with teachers, they need to respect teachers and learn.

Students tend to lose their respect for teachers in a mixed relationship where the roles are not clearly defined. Students are too young and inexperienced to know how far a friendship with a teacher can go.

A strong and positive relationship with students is also very important for classroom success. Teachers can learn and use various techniques and approaches to strengthen and improve the quality of the relationship with his or her students. Such techniques can help boost the students' commitment and participation.

Strategies for the establishment of a quality teacher-student relationship include:

- Teacher-student relationship should be based on the general principles teachers follow at work, such as fairness and honesty. If teachers do not stick to these principles, students will hardly respect them.

- Teachers should play a proactive role in the construction of the relationship with students. Although students also take part in the interaction, it is the teacher's role to lead. Teachers should boast a degree of confidence required to build and keep a strong classroom relationship.

- Teachers should know the students and understand their needs. Teachers should get to know each student and his or her individual skills and necessities; get familiar with their interests and intellectual potential. Understanding the cultural background and personality of each student is a key step to building a successful teacher-student relationship.

- Classroom interaction should be based on respect and self-esteem. Students should learn to both give and receive respect.

- Teachers should use effective discipline models.

- Classroom work should be interesting and fun. Students should have certain control over their work in order to feel commitment and engagement with learning.

- Teachers can strengthen their relationship with students if they actually enjoy the time spent in the classroom. Creating a pleasant environment is not in conflict with keeping a professional distance.

- A "win-win" situation in classroom can be achieved through a synergy between teacher and students using the balance of power. Power is held by both parties in the relationship. When teachers try to take over the entire control in the classroom, students try to react and even argue their authority. On the other hand, if students share the power with the teacher, the interaction is much more constructive as they feel commitment.

- Both verbal and nonverbal communication should be very clear. Teachers should make sure they understand students and that students understand them. A good communication is essential for any relationship.

- Teachers should find a way to motivate students. A relationship will hardly work if one of the parties is not willing to participate. The same works for teaching and learning.

Discipline also plays a key role in teacher-student relationship. However, discipline should merely serve as a means of maintaining a healthy classroom environment in order to support learning. Discipline should not be a goal for its own sake. Skilled teachers keep the classroom discipline by making the students invest their interest in nothing but the subject.

Following is a list of possible techniques to keep a sound discipline:

- Teachers should treat students equally and set the same rules and requirements for all, regardless of their grades and results.

- All discipline problems should be tackled as they arise rather than left to become more complicate.

- Threats and angry outbursts will not help maintain discipline, especially when threats are not supported by action.

- Punishments should be proportional to misbehaviors and should comply with school policy and rules.

- Classroom rules should be reasonable and clear to students.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

Classroom Power Relations: Understanding Student-Teacher Interaction
Mary Phillips Manke.
Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1997
Connecting with Students
Allen N. Mendler.
Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, 2001
Managing Your Classroom with Heart: A Guide for Nurturing Adolescent Learners
Katy Ridnouer.
Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, 2006
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 1 "Interacting with Students"
Teacher Characteristics as Predictors of Teacher-Student Relationships: Stress, Negative Affect, and Self-Efficacy
Yoon, Jina S.
Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal, Vol. 30, No. 5, January 1, 2002
Power in the Classroom: Communication, Control, and Concern
Virginia P. Richmond; James C. McCroskey.
Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1992
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 8 "Affinity in the Classroom" and Chap. 10 "Teacher and Student Concern and Classroom Power and Control"
Classroom Management That Works: Research-Based Strategies for Every Teacher
Robert J. Marzano; Jana S. Marzano; Debra J. Pickering.
Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, 2003
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 4 "Teacher-Student Relationships"
Teaching, Learning and the Curriculum in Secondary Schools: A Reader
Bob Moon; Ann Shelton Mayes; Steven Hutchinson.
RoutledgeFalmer, 2002
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 10 "The Teacher-Student Relationship in Secondary School"
Classroom Communication and Diversity: Enhancing Institutional Practice
Robert G. Powell; Dana Caseau.
Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2004
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 6 "Building Relationships"
Using Dialogue Journals to Strengthen the Student-Teacher Relationship: A Comparative Case Study
Anderson, Darlene H.; Nelson, Julie A. Peterson; Richardson, Michael; Webb, Natalie; Young, Ellie L.
College Student Journal, Vol. 45, No. 2, June 2011
Being Real: The Student-Teacher Relationship and African-American Male Delinquency
Camille Gibson.
LFB Scholarly, 2002
Teacher Lore and Professional Development for School Reform
Gretchen Schwarz; Joye Alberts.
Bergin & Garvey, 1998
Librarian’s tip: "Low Grades and the Student/Teacher Relationship" begins on p. 83
Attachment in Middle Childhood
Kathryn A. Kerns; Rhonda A. Richardson.
Guilford Press, 2005
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 11 "Examining Relationships between Students and Teachers: A Potential Extension of Attachment Theory?"
Learning Is Not a Spectator Sport: Strategies for Teacher-Student Interaction
Colvin, A. Vonnie.
JOPERD--The Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance, Vol. 69, No. 2, February 1998
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