Ways to Improve Teacher-Student Relationships and Bring Down Discipline Disparities

When teachers form relationships with their students through high-quality teaching and strong emotional supports, it leads to enhanced cooperation and engagement in the classroom as well as fewer instances of exclusionary discipline. But what exactly teachers need to know to take their classrooms in this direction and stamp out discipline disparities based on factors such as race.  

1 Look closely at root causes. Adopting a coherent and organic approach to solve any problem is always appreciated. In this case, the first step, would be to canvass the root causes of discipline disparities. A teacher may be required to receive professional development on perspective-taking skills, culturally responsive practices and how to build meaningful relationships with students.

2. Won’t it be useful to first build relationships with students you do not know very well? Is it not true that a coterie of students and their behavior pattern is well-understood by you? Students who are traditionally more vulnerable to negative interactions with teachers can be encouraged if they receive engaging instruction.

It is imperative to know your students beyond just their academic strengths and challenges and their names. You can start with questions like:

  • What excites them?
  • What do they like to do after school?
  • What scares them?
  • Garnering information like this can assist you to relate to your students and help them in feeling engaged and happy in your classroom.

3 Take your students’ perspective. How a student interpret his classroom experiences stays with them all their life. For instance, when students of color start believing that their teachers are going easy on them with academic tasks, the teacher-student relationship becomes fragile as students start to think that their teachers do not count on their abilities.

Once a teacher learns to put himself in his student’s shoes, his awareness of ‘how his students are experiencing’ definitely increases. You can begin by asking questions like:  

  • How does this student feel about me?
  • How does this student see his experience in this classroom?
  • How does this student think I feel about them?

In essence, teacher-student relationships cannot fall through if a teacher instills faith in the heart of students that all their efforts are directed to help a student excel both at personal and professional front. Always picking holes in the arguments of students create an ambiance of mistrust in which student’s confidence is shaken and he gradually starts disbelieving his teachers. Click on the link below to gain more insights on teacher-student relationships.


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