How teachers can build trust with students

Developing healthy relationships is the foundation for building trust among teachers and students. When students trust their teachers, they are more receptive to learning.

SPARK Schools regional Manager, Coralee van Schalkwyk says when students know that they are in a safe space, they cooperate better and produce their best work.

Why is it important for teachers to build trust with their students?

Healthy relationships between teachers and students play a vital role in the learning process.

“When learners trust their teachers, their level of engagement in class is significantly higher. Because of this, they respond to classwork and social interactions in a positive manner,” van Schalkwyk explains. If this trust is not established, students’ behaviour is the opposite.

One of the things that van Schalkwyk noticed was an increased refusal to cooperate at school when students didn’t trust their teachers. They also become unruly and challenging in the classroom.

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“In terms of our SPARK core values, we notice when scholars trust our educators, they demonstrate our core values of responsibility and achievement, more than those who don’t,” she says.

How can teachers build trust with students?

One of the essential ways of building any relationship with students is how you interact with them.

READ MORE: Six tips on what to do before the first day of school

“Smile, greet them and treat them with respect. It’s important for new scholars in your class to know that the space they are in is a safe space built on respect,” van Schalkwyk explains.

Like any other relationship, building trust takes time and commitment.

Here are some practical tips from Van Schalkwyk to help you build trust with your students.

  • Tell them about yourself: By sharing, for example, that you have a dog or live in their area, you love to read or bake, etc. This allows your students to connect with you. This is an excellent icebreaker on the first day of school, especially if you have new students.
  • Show a genuine interest in your students: Show interest in what they like, dislike, and interests. This will assist you in building a relationship with your students. This can also add a level of personalisation to their work in class, E.g. If they are a soccer fan, you can ask them about their favourite team.
  • Actively listen: It is important to be an active listener. Children also want to be heard and seen. Being an active listener and being engaged in what your students have to say, tells them that you care and value what they have to say.
  • Ask for feedback: As a teacher, ask your scholars for feedback on a topic taught either on areas they are confused or unsure about. This also helps educators see if there might be learning barriers that students are struggling with and where they are doing well.

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