5 Strategies to Build Student Relationships – Part 2

This blog is part two of our series on building relationships with students. The goal is to live the motto that “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” As a reminder, the focus here is not on compliance from the students but on connection with the students. If you only demand compliance, you never forge connection; however, if you work on connection, then you’ll discover that compliance comes naturally.

3. Eat Lunch with Your Students

Before going any further, we admit this one is a hard one at times because you, as a teacher, want and need a break from students.  However, stop and think about it for a bit. When is there a better time to take a personal interest in your students than lunch? When is there a better time to smile, give high fives, and to interact with them as a person not their classroom authority? These 30 minutes can be instrumental in changing the educational experience for students as they see you in a different light.

So, how? How can you do this if your school offers you a duty-free lunch? Knowing that teacher self-care is important, how can you take care of yourself AND use this lunchtime as a connection builder? The first thing is to make sure you build it as part of your instructional plan. For instance, simply pick one day a week and head into the lunchroom and mingle with your students. You do not have to be there the full time, but work through your class and speak to your students and groups.

Maybe your school requires teachers to be in the school cafeteria with their class; yet, when that happens, you often see teachers congregating together to talk. Again, here is a missed opportunity – just select one day during the week and sit with your students and listen to their conversations and interests. It is amazing what you can learn from them during that time.

Now, if you are teaching in an online school, create weekly or bi-weekly “lunch bunch” meetings where you open up a collaboration tool (maybe Zoom, Newrow, or MS Teams) and invite students to join you during that time. Students can sit and listen, or they can turn on their cameras and socialize as a group. Even if only a few students attend, the impact will be far-reaching and word will spread increasing attendance.  

Will one lunch a week really make a difference? Absolutely! If a typical school year is 25 weeks and you spend a single, thirty-minute lunch each week with students, then you have gained an extra 12 hours of connection with your students.

These few options for leveraging lunch to connect with your students provides a deeper understanding of who they are and how you can help them. You will observe how they interact with each other and potentially spot issues that can be addressed when small. It will also grant insight into their interests and hobbies, which may come up later in your lessons!

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