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Student Engagement | Teacher & Classroom Resources

3 Power Moves for Building Rapport with Students

November 15th, 2022 | 5 min. read

Joshua Witherspoon

Joshua Witherspoon

After serving as a Texas FFA state officer in 2018, Josh Witherspoon joined the iCEV team as a part-time employee for 3 years before taking on the role of content development specialist in 2022. Witherspoon holds a bachelor's degree in agricultural communications from Texas Tech University, in which his experience and proficiency in writing, marketing and CTE allow him to effectively communicate the successes of CTE educators and students and the value iCEV has to offer.

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Teacher-student rapport is defined as a close bond between instructors and learners enabling them to work jointly in classroom contexts. As a mutually beneficial facet of a positive learning environment, rapport helps motivate students and ensures the teacher can provide support throughout the learning process.

In this blog we will explore the value of building rapport with your students as well as ideas and tips for building lasting rapport to create a more positive and productive environment for all learners in your classroom.

Why Rapport is the Answer

In a classroom environment, effective learning doesn’t just happen on its own when students sit down, and you start teaching. Certain factors like safety, clear expectations and trust must be present for students to get the most out of their learning experiences in your classroom. Of those factors, rapport is a powerful tool educators can use to both motivate students to engage in their learning and better connect students to what they’re learning.

To foster positive student-teacher rapport, educators should seek to understand their students through developing meaningful relationships. Educators can then use their knowledge of the student and how they operate in a classroom to then identify motivational factors, what challenges they face while learning and overall well-being in your classroom.

When you build rapport with your students, you are doing one of the most beneficial and impactful things you can do to improve their overall experience in the classroom. If students trust you, and feel a connection with you, learning outcomes will improve because students feel they can ask more questions and engage better with curriculum because of the rapport you’ve developed with them.

The better the relationship with the student, the more likely the students will share the necessary information to help build strategies to overcome the obstacles that get in their way.

Power Moves for Building Rapport

Keep it Organic

We’ve all been a part of a cheesy group ice breaker activity at least once in our lives. While these activities may not have seemed important at the time, they offer a first step to developing positive rapport with others. For students in today’s classrooms developing organic and positive rapport with their educator offers many benefits for both the teacher and student.

To ensure you start on the right foot choose opportunities and activities to develop rapport with your students that are modern and will give you the best look at who they are as learners and people. Rapport is not an overnight occurrence and is instead a developed shared feeling between two people. Intentionally take time throughout the semester or year with your students to develop rapport through activities or simple one-on-one chats.

By intentionally trying to develop organic rapport with your students you’re providing them the support they need to be successful.

Classroom Pulse Checks

Classroom pulse checks are a great way to check in with your students individually to give you as their educator perspective of their challenges, what they’re interests are and how you can best meet their needs. A pulse check is simply a short one-on-one chat between a teacher and student aimed at identifying where students need support and where they can be challenged. Here are some guiding questions to ask your students to help get you started:

  • Do you feel like you could use extra time to go back over anything we’ve covered in class between (insert specific time frame) and now?
  • What have you enjoyed learning about lately in class? What would you like to know more about?
  • How can I help you be successful?

Bring Learning to Life

Knowledge really is power for today’s CTE educators in that the more you understand your students individual needs as learners the more engaging and impactful their education can be. When going through lessons and activities you’ve done over the course of several years it can often be easy to use the same examples, metaphors and relatable scenarios you’ve used in the past.

However, when an educator has positive rapport with their students they can use their knowledge base of student’s interests, motivating factors and how they learn best to use more relatable examples and scenarios bringing learning to life and making it easier for students to connect to the curriculum you teach.

Ideas to better bring their learning to life include:

  • When planning out lessons think about connections you can make between the content and the world your students live in and what they know.
  • Think back on interactions you had with a student in your class that connects to what you’re teaching.
  • Ask students if they have connections or past experiences with the subject matter they are learning a build off of previous knowledge.

To learn more about the value of rapport and how to develop healthy rapport with your students check out iCEV’s On-Demand Video, by CTE Teacher Jaison Brook, on Building Rapport with Students: The missing Link.