The beginning of the school year is an exciting time for students and the teacher. It’s also a critical time for a teacher to begin connecting positively with the students. Over time, the connection becomes stronger, and good student-teacher rapport is established. This year, with online learning playing a major role in education all over the country, teachers find themselves with a new challenge: building a good rapport with students even when they are not in the same physical space.

Rapport Builds Trust in an Uncertain Situation

The COVID-19 pandemic keeps many students at home, connecting with their teacher and classmates online. Whether the connection is real-time or through a recording, the challenge to build relationships is putting pressure on many teachers who usually interact face-to-face with their students. In uncertain situations like these, it’s important for the teacher to take positive steps toward building a good personal connection with each student. It’s much easier now for a student to get lost or feel left out. When a student feels uncertain, he or she is not likely to put much trust in what is being taught. Personal interaction may take longer now, involving individual meetings online, personalized emails, or just making roll call extra special at the beginning of the online session. Whatever it takes to build that relationship, it’s definitely worth it in the long run.

It Increases Motivation To Be Present

Teachers in a classroom know how to deal with students who have zoned out and are no longer participating. Online learning makes this more challenging. Teachers may not be able to sense when a student is no longer focused on the lesson. There may be more distractions in the student’s home which the teacher cannot control. Students may need more motivation to listen to each online lesson and participate. Where is this motivation going to come from? Hopefully, parents will encourage their children as they learn online. Mostly, it’s going to come from the teacher, making learning more enjoyable and interactive through his or her attitude toward the students. When a lesson becomes boring, it’s easy for an unmotivated student to check out.

A good teacher will provide some sort of accountability to students, so they understand that they are expected to participate and that the participants will be rewarding, not dull.

It Gives Students the Confidence They Need to Adapt to Their New Environment

A non-parental authority relationship is important for a child’s maturity. Connecting strongly with a teacher helps a student grow in confidence, and gives him or her courage to strive toward new goals. If a student is initially uncomfortable with the new online learning system, a good student-teacher rapport can make that student feel safer. When this happens, the student will be free to reach out and try new things. Adapting to a new way of learning won’t be easy, but it is possible when a teacher builds rapport with wisdom and kindness.

Simple Ways to Build Rapport With Students

Building rapport may involve rethinking some of your online communication strategies. Try these ideas to connect personally, even though you aren’t in the same room as your students:

  • Smile often
  • Use personal anecdotes in your lesson
  • Connect through humor
  • Move around as much as your video camera allows
  • Be reliable and on time
  • Reply to emails and messages ASAP
  • Ask questions, even if you can’t hear the answers
  • Make your enthusiasm for your subject obvious
  • Promote class discussion, if this is at all possible
  • Be creative with your setting and backdrops

Learn More About Overcoming the Challenges of Online Learning

When a teacher builds a good rapport with students, those students will learn more. Attitude may not be everything, but it can change everything that does matter. Want to learn more about the teacher-student relationships at The Tenney School? Please contact us, and we’ll be happy to answer your questions.