We all know we’re supposed to build rapport with our students. But what are the concrete steps we can take to do that? What exactly do we mean by rapport? Is it something we can measure concretely? As it happens, the answer is, “Yes!”
This article, The Importance of Establishing Rapport with Your Students, aims to demonstrate how rapport benefits learning. However to do that, the authors had to measure behaviors that build classroom community. In other words, they had to break down rapport into specific behaviors. As a teacher, you can use their scale backwards to build classroom community with your students!
So what are those behaviors that build rapport?
The authors of the article cited some key characteristics. Now these might seem like obvious qualities for a teacher to have. But, if we look at a few of the characteristics that are easy to implement in concrete actions, a pattern does emerge. For example, the researchers associated being happy, and enthusiastic with teachers that build good rapport. I’m not a bubbly person by nature, but I do love my job. I think that comes through; students feel that you enjoy your subject and your class.
In addition, students appreciated classroom communities that promote class discussion. That includes letting students comment and ask questions as well as asking questions themselves. Students enjoy it when the teacher listens to them. Students also enjoy when the teacher is part of the discussion. It gives them a feeling of closeness.
The research also cited reliability as a factor, for example, answering emails. I feel that reliability relates to respect. Students will respect you if you respect them.
Another concept related to rapport is immediacy, or openness. Using personal examples, telling jokes, smiling, and moving around the classroom are all ways to show immediacy. Students feel that the teacher wants to connect with them. On the other hand, teachers who stay at the front of the class can be seen as building a wall between them and the students. Teachers who never discuss their personal life similarly distance themselves from the students.
What do you do in your classroom to build rapport with students? What are ways a teacher can show they are open to students?
Worried about the first day of class? Need a simple activity that will start the year off with a lot of fun, while building rapport with your students? Check out alphabetpublishing.xyz/book/first-day-of-school for free teacher resources on starting your school year off right. You’ll also find more information about 50 Activities for the First Day of School, a teacher’s resource of with icebreakers, warm-ups, and activities for building a classroom community. Author Walton Burns has been teaching ESL and EFL for 15 years and writing materials professionally for almost 10 years (waltonburns.com).