Relationships in the Classroom: The Social-Emotional Foundation of Success

College professor helping four students in library

Building relationships in the classroom is essential for creating a positive and productive learning environment. While it’s not always easy to pause content instruction to foster relationships, numerous studies have shown that people are more productive in a space where they experience trust and safety. Here are several strategies you can use to strengthen your classroom community.

Respond to Student Emails

Ironically, one impactful strategy to build relationships with students takes place out of the classroom—and on email. Responding to student emails may seem like a small thing, but it lets students know that you value their thoughts and concerns and you are approachable. This can help to build trust and create a more supportive classroom environment. This does not mean that you should be expected to reply to a student who messages at 11:59 before a midnight deadline; however, even that message deserves a reply at some point.

Share and Model Strategies

Another relationship-building strategy is to share personal struggles. By being open and honest about your own experiences, you can help your students see that they are not alone in their struggles. This can help to create a sense of empathy and understanding, fostering a more positive classroom environment.

The Power of Rituals

Finally, promoting rituals where everyone comes together can strengthen relationships in the classroom. Rituals can include everyday things like group discussions and class meetings, or special events like a class party, movie day, or team-building games. These rituals help students to connect with each other, build trust, and feel a sense of belonging.

No matter which strategy you try, building relationships in the classroom can lead to a more positive classroom environment where students are engaged and motivated to learn.

  • Michael Greschler, M.Ed., SMARTS Director

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