Feel free to comment with your ideas and opinions!
Relationships are the cornerstone of a successful classroom.  Too often teachers go through the motions in an attempt to have their students perform on a state mandated test.  This leads to burnout, stress, and behavior problems we claim are out of our control.  What if I told you they aren’t out of your control? You can do something about the climate of the classroom, and whether or not you want to admit it, it starts and ends with you.  This goes for new teachers and veteran teachers alike.  So how can you work to build relationships with your students in an attempt to create a positive classroom climate?
Feel free to comment with your ideas or suggestions!
Here are some tips:

1.    Laugh with your students

Don’t be afraid to tell a joke or make a funny comment.  Even the cheesiest joke may bring a smile to their faces!  And if they laugh AT you for telling a joke, then at least you got them to laugh, but be able to laugh at yourself as well!  This will go a long way.

2.    It’s okay to be wrong

No one is perfect.  There have been times in my classroom where I have worked a problem too quickly and a student has corrected me.  My response is usually the same, “Thanks so much, see guys even the teacher can work too quickly and make mistakes!  It goes to show that we all need to take our time and check our work.” Turn it into a teachable moment!  Or, you can do like some teachers and use the “Ahhhh, I was seeing if you were paying attention” move.  This also applies if you’re wrong when you get onto a student and find out it actually wasn’t their fault.  Try apologizing; some students will have a look of disbelief when they hear their teacher apologize.

3.    Don’t yell

This is a pet peeve of mine.  Too many students are yelled at enough at home.  The last thing a student needs is screaming coming from an adult who should be their biggest advocate. This only escalates things and will not foster a good relationship.

4.    Learn something about them

This will go a very long way in building relationships.  Take the time to listen to them talk amongst their classmates.  Give them an interest survey at the onset of the year.  Use a quote from their favorite movie, the name of their favorite athlete, or an example of a problem using their favorite food.  You will see them perk up at them mention of something they like! 

5.    Have their back

I realize this can be a tricky one.  You want to maintain a good working relationship with colleagues while trying to foster relationships in your classroom.  However, your students MUST know that you are an advocate for them.  They must know that regardless of what they say or do, you believe in them and have their back.  Always remember: When a student acts up, make sure they know that it isn’t them you’re disapproving of, it’s the behavior.  THEY MUST KNOW YOU BELIEVE IN THEM!

6.    Help meet their basic needs

It’s human nature to want to feel safe and taken care of.  If your students show up to school hungry, improperly clothed, or exhausted because they were kept up all night by mom and step-dad fighting then you must be understanding.  These kids are expected to live through the Hell many of them do and show up ready to perform.  Take care of them, help them, listen to them, ask if there is anything you can do, but most importantly, show that you care about them as a person. 

7.    Encourage them to take risks

What if you tried something new in your classroom and it didn’t go so well?  Would you want your principal to come in and berate you in front of your students?  I didn’t think so.  So why would you flunk them if they showed effort and actually tried on a test and failed it?  What does this teach them?  Instead, congratulate them on their effort and build on that success (even if it’s minimal).  You should have seen the look on my students’ faces the first time I congratulated one of them for scoring a 35% on a test.  I told them, “Awesome, you mastered 35% of the information!  I can’t wait until we go over what you missed and you score even higher next time!”  This has translated into an anticipation of testing rather than a fear of testing.  Remember: Students are not the score they receive; they are real people with real fears, joys, and needs.

8.    Make positive phone calls

How many times have you called a home only to get voicemail?  Once they see the school calling, most parents think, “No thanks; I don’t have time for this today.”  Try making at least one positive phone call a day.  Check the parent you called off your list until you have called them all and then do it again!  In fact, when you call for any negative behaviors in the future your call will more than likely be answered!

9.    Give them a compliment

This is one of my favorites!  Try starting the week off with your student roster.  Place a check next to a student’s name after you have said something nice about them.  This can be anything from, “Wow, nice handwriting” to, “I like that jacket!”  Trust me; it will go a long way!

10.   Show them respect

You may be the only person they see throughout the day that will treat them with respect.  If you expect them to say “please” and “thank you” then you should say it to them.  The same goes with “yes sir” and “yes ma’am”.  Feel free to call them “ladies and gentlemen”.  An atmosphere of mutual respect can be developed, but remember that YOU’RE the adult and the one who should be setting the example.