Building bonds with students can be boon to engagement, learning
- Veteran elementary and middle school teacher Chrissy Romano-Arrabito writes for EdSurge that while summer is the time when teachers read up on education trends, browse research, and carefully plot out lesson plans for the coming year, it's also important to consider ways to connect emotionally with students.
- Educators would do well to approach students as whole human beings rather than just minds to mold, as kids learn more from teachers they have a good rapport with, and front-loading the school year with community-building activities will pay off down the road.
- Some proven ways for educators to form bonds with students include keeping a sense of humor, showing your human flaws, and sharing details about aspects of your personal life — such as pets, hobbies and vacations — while also asking students about their out-of-school lives to seek common ground.
While the benefits of classroom teachers forging strong bonds with students are many, less attention is given to principals and superintendents making those types of connections. But certainly, today's schools are complex environments, and every player has a role in student outcomes. School leaders, though, are too often either segregated from the daily lives of students or looked upon as those who dish out consequences and, thus, best avoided.
But there are ways that principals and even superintendents can better serve students by making themselves more visible and more "human," rather than a distant authority figure. First off, there's the simple step of treating students the same way you would want someone with authority over you and your environment to treat you. Beyond that, school leaders can take time to learn students' names, leverage lunchtime to engage with and watch students during unstructured social time, regularly greet students face-to-face in the mornings, be present at every school function, hold regular classroom chats to talk to students about topics of concern, and catch students being good rather than just when they need to be disciplined.