Building a Positive Relationship with Your Teacher Could Impact Your Grade
As a teacher, I always set high expectations for my students. I was firm on deadlines and adhered to expectations I built from Day 1.
Then, I met Jackie. Jackie was a smart, cheery, liked-by-everyone sort of student. Every day that she entered the classroom, she greeted me with a “Hi, Mr. Winter, how are you?” It stood out to me because so few students did that so regularly.
Jackie participated in class regularly, and would occasionally approach me after class with something like, “Mr. Winter, I read the chapter on Market Risk, and I listened to what you shared with the class today, but I’m still not sure what a negative ‘Beta’ value indicates with a stock?”
I respected Jackie as a student and truly enjoyed having her in class. I often wondered what a classroom full of “Jackie’s” would look like, because I was starting to feel that she was the “perfect” student.
Jackie came into class the one morning and didn’t say “hello.” Instead, she said, “Mr. Winter, I have to be honest with you… I came home after soccer practice, ate some dinner, and I was going to finish the report that is due today. However, I was tired, so I thought I’d take a 10 minute nap and then get started on it. The next thing I knew, my mother was waking me up to get ready for school this morning. So, I’m really sorry, but I don’t have my report finished.”
So, now what do I do?! My students know I have firm deadlines with consequences for lateness. Now, my “star” student just told me that she didn’t meet my deadline because she was sleeping!
Well, based on my knowledge of this student, I gave her a one-day extension (something I don’t usually do).
Shortly after Jackie approached me, another student (Sarah) approached me with a similar dilemma… Her report wasn’t done either, but her explanation was “marching band practice went late last night, I had a project in another class that was due today as well, and I just couldn’t get this finished.”
How did I handle this? I found myself explaining to her that this report was assigned over two weeks ago, I’ve given class time to work on it, and I’ve been reminding the class of the upcoming due date. I did not extend the due date for her.
Later that night, I was questioning myself, “why did I extend the due date for Jackie and not for Sarah?”
Here’s the reality…. Jackie had earned a high level of trust in me over repeated, positive interactions. While Sarah only interacted with me when she needed something.
I’m sure many could argue, that I was unfair or inconsistent, but the conclusion of my reflection was that I’m ultimately “human.”
I have to believe that I’m not the only teacher that has “human” moments, so the question for students is “what kind of relationship do I currently have with my teachers and is it the relationship I want?”
If you think about question long enough, you’ll likely come to the conclusion that you need to work on building a better relationship with your teacher(s).
So how do you build a relationship with your teacher? Nobody likes a kiss-up, so avoid false and overly frequent compliments. Being a shadow doesn’t help either. Be friendly, but know your boundaries and give your teacher some space as well.
What you can do is demonstrate a pattern of responsibility and punctuality; that means get your work done on time and show up to class on time. Be present and alert during class. Maintain eye contact when the teacher is speaking in class. Although it is not always comfortable, raise your hand in class and participate.
Interacting with your teacher is helpful too. That means saying “hi” when entering, and saying “goodbye” when leaving the class. And an occasional “hi” in the hallway is always appreciated. Gifts are not necessary, but handwritten notes on occasion go a very long way!
If you can follow these simple steps, you’ll be sure to build a positive impression in the mind of your teacher. So now, should something happen that requires you to ask a favor of your teacher, it is not guaranteed that your request will be honored, but your likely hood of success will be greatly increased.
This is because you have given your teacher a reason to trust you. If you have proven to your teacher that you are a hard working, trustworthy student, then it is easier for them to help you out.
For more information on building a positive relationship with your teacher check out Chapter 8 (pages 62-66) in the SOAR® Study Skills book!
Hey parents, we will be sharing tips for you on how to best communicate with your student’s teachers in a favorable manner next week! Learn how to talk to them without being called the “helicopter parent” in the teachers lounge.
Brian Winter, M.Ed.
Co-Author + President, SOAR® Learning Inc.
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