In old times, students were passive receivers of information in a traditional classroom setup. Teachers expected the students to remain quiet and not ask questions. Even the slightest movement resulted in corporal punishment; on the other hand, there was a reward for maintaining silence. They only spoke when the teacher would allow them to speak. Eventually, there existed a meager chance of developing a cooperative relationship with the teacher. Teachers were wholly unapproachable and considered to be figures of utter reverence. As a result, many students would lag academically and socially.
The students who did well in the classroom and achieved academic progress were the ones who were independent learners. The rest of the students would struggle all year long whereas, students with special needs who required the most attention struggled the most due to lack of special attention. Teachers dealt with all the students similarly, unaware of their individual learning needs and preferences. Addressing learners of all types is critical for establishing a strong student-teacher relationship.
Now, let’s discuss why building this relationship is vital:
Students with special needs
Undoubtedly, education has entirely transformed in modern times. A positive student-teacher relationship is fundamental to effective teaching and learning, especially for students with varied learning capabilities. Building a solid relationship is more critical when dealing with students with special needs. Moreover, educators are emphasizing the need to determine students’ multiple intelligences and engage with them accordingly. However, catering to students with unique learning abilities requires mastering various teaching styles and techniques. For this purpose, it’s viable that teachers pursue higher academic programs aimed at providing special education.
Nowadays, teachers worldwide are taking advantage of the fact that they can upgrade their teaching by getting specialized degrees online with ease. Online learning allows them to improve their career profile and perform more efficiently at their jobs. For instance, educators aspiring to become special education teachers can enroll in an online master’s degree program. This program allows them to maximize student engagement while boosting academic performance.
So, to ensure a positive student-teacher relationship, cater to each student’s needs individually.
Theory of Social Interaction
Lev Vygotsky’s theory of social interaction is of significant importance concerning student-teacher relationships. The prime focus of Vygotsky’s framework is that social interaction plays a pertinent role in developing cognition. He emphasized the concept of social interaction as vital to learning. In his view, social interaction is essential because each function in a child’s cultural development appears first on the social level than the individual level.
Students learn first from social interaction and then individually. During their school years, students interact with teachers extensively, spending hours in the company of their teachers. Therefore, teachers are responsible for creating a favorable social atmosphere for the students to feel safe.
Deflect the barriers to learning
Investing time in building positive relationships with the students can help them become better achievers in the classroom. For instance, when students approach their teachers without any trouble and know that the teacher would be willing to help and support them, they feel more comfortable interacting. With this confidence, students can easily ask for help when they get stuck while doing a task.
According to Vygotsky’s theory of Zone of Proximal Development, there’s a difference between what students can achieve unsupported and what they can achieve through support. Therefore, when a student is in the zone of proximal development for a specific task, limited assistance by the teacher will help the student accomplish the task. Consequently, if students have a positive relationship with the teachers, they would feel more comfortable asking for help from the teacher. When they get the assistance needed, they will perform the task diligently. As a result, they will improve their academic performance and make progress.
When students feel welcomed and cherished in their learning spaces, they become confident learners. Teachers play a significant role in building confidence among the students. Simply engaging in small talks with the students and getting to know them makes them feel that they’re not invisible and that their presence matters to the teacher. They feel confident sharing their personal lives and issues with the teachers more openly.
At times, students do not have adult figures at home to share their problems. In such situations, they turn to their teachers to vent their frustrations which is only possible when they have a healthy relationship with their teachers. They feel confident that their teachers would listen to them without judgment and offer sound advice.
Motivation to learn
When teachers work intentionally to create a healthy and positive relationship with the students, they become intrinsically motivated to learn. Intrinsic motivation is the motivation that stems from within, which doesn’t come from external gains. For instance, participating in a sports competition only for fun and not the award implies intrinsic motivation.
A solid student-teacher relationship fosters a love of learning. Students are intrinsically motivated to learn because the entire process of learning is satisfying and enjoyable. Students feel accomplished when they attempt tasks, and their teachers appreciate them. Appreciation leads to the motivation to do better and, students are motivated to learn and be successful.
A positive student-teacher relationship can help reduce disruptive behavior in the classroom. All the experienced and seasoned teachers agree that teaching children with behavioral issues is extremely challenging and exhausting. Dealing with disruptive behavior during classroom teaching robs teachers of crucial instructional time. In addition, teachers lose a lot of time keeping the classroom decorum stable and peaceful.
Teachers who invest time in building a healthy student-teacher relationship face relatively less frequent behavior issues in their classroom. Therefore, the most effective classroom management technique is maintaining a healthy relationship with the students.
When teachers intentionally build a mutual relationship with their students and create a sense of belonging, students feel more appreciated. They’re more likely to be academically invested and display positive behavior. Building a cooperative student-teacher relationship is indispensable in today’s era where students have become active learners demanding unconventional teaching styles. Therefore, teachers must establish a healthy relationship with their students to ensure satisfactory academic performances.