Building Positive Relationships With Students

In my last blog post, I talked about how I never really had a teacher who was interested in my life or took the effort to get to know me. I also talked about my Educational Guru being Rita Pierson and a big reason why she is my Guru is because she is a huge believer in building relationships with students. She emphasized on how taking the time to get to know them will build their trust with you and their willingness to learn.

In this post, I want to dive into building positive relationships with students. I will touch on the “Why’s, How’s, and What’s” when it comes to being able to create relationships with your students.

Why Is It Important To Build Relationships With Students?

Students spend 180 days of a year in school and in each of those days there are about six hours. This means that students spend about 1,080 hours a school year with their teacher. Imagine spending that amount of time with a person but never really getting to know them that well. It would make those hours feel long and not worth putting any effort into anything. But, when you spend such a large amount of time with someone, you want to have a positive relationship with them and one that will become important to you.

Strong student-teacher relationships help improve students in academic engagements, grades, attendance, behavior issues, and the number of school dropouts. As educators, we strive to fulfill these things in our classroom because we want the best for our students and we want to see them succeed. By building relationships with students, it will give them the encouragement they need to be successful in anything they put their mind to.

When students are given a positive praise or encouragement, their brain releases dopamine which makes students feel good and it motivates them to do well. Once students are motivated, they will want to continue to focus on a certain topic or skill so they can continue to receive positive praise. Once the praise is given again to students, the cycle starts over by releasing dopamine which helps with motivation. This cycle can be a never ending cycle if we create positive interactions with students and positive relationships.

How Do You Build Relationships With Students?

Positive interactions with students creates positive relationships. Trynia Kaufman is the author of Building Positive Relationships With Students: What Brain Science Says and she states, “…researchers recommend having five positive interactions for every one negative interaction” (2020). It can be discouraging for students if they constantly hear everything that they do wrong but never anything they do right.

“In the classroom, positive relationships are the foundation for learning success.”          – Cicely Woodard of edutopia

When students are treated with respect and build a relationship with them, they tend to like you. Once they start to like you and appreciate your efforts to get to know them, they will learn to listen to you and treat you with respect. They will want to please you in everything they do.

Students do not always have a safe person to go to and talk to about things going on in their life. By showing that you are interested in a student’s life, they may open up to you about what is happening to them. You may begin to notice something’s wrong with a student if they all of a sudden start acting out in class and their behaviors get in the way of class time. This is a great opportunity for you to talk with the student and provide a safe place for them to talk. Once that student sees you care about them, they will hopefully start to listen to you and want to respect you.

“…it is important to remember that when it comes to students behavior, it’s far more often the relationship students have with you than it is the rules themselves that encourages students to follow those rules.”

– Mark Boynton and Christine Boynton

What Do We Do To Build Relationships With Students?

Below I am going to talk about just a few of the many ways you can build your relationships with your students.

Learn Your Student’s Names: Being one student who is part of a larger body of students the makes up one whole school can make a student feel invisible. By learning your student’s names as quick as possible can make them feel important.

Attend Activities Outside Of School: Every time a student sees their teacher outside of school, their face immediately lights up with joy and excitement. They appreciate you taking the time to come and see what they do outside of the classroom. It sends a message to students and parents that you care about them.

Integrate Your Student’s Voices: After learning a lot about inquiry based learning, we see the benefits of student led classrooms. Students have a voice and when you open the floor up to their ideas you not only show them you are interested in their thoughts but you learn so much about them and their thought process.

Listen To Your Students: Sometimes, it is easy to build a wall between you and your students because you want to keep a professional relationship with them. It is important to break through those walls to better understand our students and help them not only academically but on an individual level as well. You can still have an appropriate relationship with students while also building a better understanding of them.

Yes, building positive relationships with your students is not an easy task. You may get students who are closed off and don’t want to share anything with you. This can be discouraging, but it is important to remember that some students don’t have anyone asking them how their day was or what they did over the weekend. YOU can be the one to make a difference in your student’s life.

Check it out!!

Want to learn more about how to build positive relationships with your students? Below is a list of resources for you to check out!

  • – Building Positive Relationships With Students: What Brain Science Says by Trynia Kaufman 
  • – 10 Ways to Build Relationships With Students This Year by Genia Connell
  • – Why Teacher-Student Relationships Matter by Sarah D. Sparks
  • – 6 Strategies for Building Better Student Relationships by Cicely Woodward
  • – Educator’s Guide to Preventing and Solving Discipline Problems by Mark Boynton and Christine Boynton 

Quote Citations:

Boynton, M., & Boynton, C. (n.d.). Chapter 1. Developing Positive Teacher-Student Relations. Retrieved November 05, 2020, from

Kaufman, T. (2020, October 22). Building Positive Relationships With Students:      What Brain Science Says. Retrieved November 05, 2020, from        science-says-4-reasons-to-build-positive-relationships-with-students

Woodard, C. (2019, August 07). 6 Strategies for Building Better Student Relationships. Retrieved November 05, 2020, from


Educational Guru

When asked the question, “Who is your Educational Guru?” I sit with a blank stare on my face. I try to think of absolutely anyone that influenced me in my childhood years to become a teacher and no one comes to mind. I then try to think of my “Why?” Why did I choose to be a teacher? Well, if I were being honest, I didn’t decide to be a teacher because of an actual person in particular. I actually want to become a teacher because I never felt as though there was a teacher that ever stood out or who ever left an impact on me.

It wasn’t until college that I saw examples of teachers who inspired me. No, I am not talking about a professor. While I’m sure any professor reading this just about jumped out of their chair in excitement. I am talking about the teachers we learn about in college and the teachers who created education at the base and poured their soul into children. Teachers like Friedrich Froebel, Maria Montessori, John Dewey and so many others. These educators then became influencers to other educators and then those educators influenced others and so on and so forth.

But, I still haven’t answered the big question, “Who is your Educational Guru?” While I still am inspired by the teachers who have paved the path for education, my Educational Guru is someone who, I believe, walked that path throughout her entire teaching career, Rita Pierson.

Rita Pierson is an educator that I aspire to be. She builds relationships with her students and becomes someone that they respect and love all at the same time. When you are a teacher, you do not step into the classroom and immediately become this robot who would stand at the front of class, talk at the students, and then walk out of the classroom feeling accomplished and as though your work is done. When you step into the classroom, you want to build relationships. Get to know your students on a personal level and then that is when they will learn and be able to understand what you teach. Rita Pierson was passionate about relationships. She believes that that is the best way they will learn. Here is a quote from Rita Pierson herself,

“You know, kids don’t learn from people they don’t like.”

Well, she’s not wrong! Kids won’t learn from a robot who does not want any part in getting to know them. They will learn from someone who gets to know them as a child first, and a student second.

Building a relationship with my students is my number one priority when I have my own classroom. I never had a teacher who would spend time talking with me about my life; got to know me on a personal level. I want to be a teacher my students will remember as someone who built a relationship with them. I want my students to know that I am human and not some strange robot. They deserve to have someone getting to know them and caring for them because unless you ask, you may never know what happens outside of the four walls of that classroom. This could be their best human interaction they get all week and why not spend it teaching them and loving them?


Want to learn more about Rita Pierson? Watch her TedTalk linked below!

Rita Pierson: Every kid needs a champion

Rita Pierson, a teacher for 40 years, once heard a colleague say, “They don’t pay me to like the kids.” Her response: “Kids don’t learn from people they don’t like.'” A rousing call to educators to believe in their students and actually connect with them on a real, human, personal level.