5 Strategies to Build Student Relationships – Part 3

In the final blog that focuses on building relationships with students, the Stride Professional Development Center finishes our focus on connection with students. These extra steps could be the catalyst of change for students as research shows that one, strong relationship in a school will make all the difference for students.

Thus far, we have previously mentioned these strategies: (1) making eye contact with your students; (2) taking a personal interest in them; and (3) eating lunch with your students

4. Smile and Give High Fives Frequently

When students come to you with questions, stop what you’re doing, smile, and give them your full attention. This pause gives them eye contact mentioned earlier, and it also creates a warm, inviting place for them to gain answers. The key here is to smile – not smirk – as you listen because they will pick up non-verbal cues from you.

If you smile and are actively listening, they learn that questions are part of the learning process in this classroom. If you sigh and are busy doing other things as they ask, then they learn that questions are just a drag in the classroom. Be intentional in the smile as this is a way to demonstrate respect for them, their time, and their concerns. It also makes it easier for them to approach you in the future rather than choosing not to ask.

As the teacher, you also have the power to encourage students through simple gestures of celebration – high fives, fist bumps, clapping hands, etc. As a word of caution, resist the urge to only celebrate the correct answer or the highest scores on a test. You know every student, so find a way to point out their growth and offer encouragement to keep going.

5. Accept and Appreciate Who Your Students Are

Acceptance simply means recognizing something as authentic or genuine. Every student is unique and has a purpose they can fulfill in life. Encourage them to dream and help them plan towards their dreams, even when you have some doubts.

Several years ago, I had a student that was into gaming and wanted to make that a career. If I’m honest, I believed my time of answering his questions, reviewing his proposals, and offering feedback were wasted time. I often insisted that he craft a fall-back position in case things did not work out as planned. After graduation, I lost track of this student until we crossed paths at a home improvement store. Guess what? He’s currently employed in the gaming industry.

That taught me – many years later – that you just never know the influence you can have on a student if you accept and connect with them. This is why it’s essential to understand that each student has value. You can’t expect them to be exactly like you or anyone else, so instead of focusing on what they’re not doing right, accept them for who they are and allow yourself the freedom to help them grow into their person.


For any teacher, the goal is to develop a positive relationship with students. You want them to trust you, feel comfortable around you, and be willing to talk when they have problems or questions about class content. The most effective way for teachers to accomplish this is by using positive reinforcement and praise in their interactions with students. By building relationships with each student individually and as a group through positive affirmation, teachers can help create a culture of respect between themselves and their students, leading them down an academic path filled with success!

Remember, strive for connection not just compliance.

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