Teachers are in the relationship business


Teachers are in the relationship business

How long will you take to refute the argument “Teachers are in the relationship business”? Perhaps, your instant answer would be no but research reveals something else. Teacher-student relationship can be beefed up only when they get to know each other in a meaningful way.

Anyone who doubts that primary teaching is all about relationships should try doing day-to-day supply – it has to be the least satisfying version of the job. Yes, you leave the building marking-free, but you spend the day teaching children you can’t name, disciplining children who have no reason to trust you and rarely doing more than scratching the surface in terms of learning.

With a class of your own, it’s so different. You go through the New Year ritual of mutual sizing up: you lay down the order and establish respect, they test the boundaries to check you mean it. Along the way, you connect with them.

If you get it right, it brings respect and (more often than not) liking. We may quash the idea of teacher likeability as irrelevant but it’s human nature to work wholeheartedly for someone you like. The first question most of the parents ask their children after their first day back is “do you like your teacher?’’.

Which is not to say we should go in all stickers and extra playtime – actively trying to garner affection in the classroom will have you on a highway to nowhere – but throwing a few smiles out there never goes amiss.

And if some days you get it wrong, the next day you can change tack and have another go. My new class might not be angels but this time the challenging children are my challenging children – and that makes all the difference.

Teachers do not leave any stone unturned to enforce discipline and want students to be attentive in the class. But without understanding what is it that pares down students attention. Put differently, to understand the exact reasons behind attention-deficit in the class first requires good bonding between teachers and students.

The paradigm of right teacher-student relationship is when teachers can easily bond with their students and can freely bat around an issue.