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Six Milestones in Developing Trust Students

You know that teaching can be wondrously rewarding. As a teacher, you will help build each student’s future! From their first lesson to your parting words at the end of your teaching period, you are taking your student on a journey of growth and discovery. To embark on this journey with you, the student needs to trust you.

As the teacher, the onus is on you to build a trusting relationship with your student through what you say or do. For instance, are your words or actions beneficial or harmful to the student, whether today or in the future? Will the student be uplifted or brought low by your teachings? At every opportunity, you should show your student that you are worthy of his or her trust.

Research has shown that a trusting relationship between a teacher and student supports significant learning and achievement. Building such a relationship is a journey in itself. The road may be long and fraught with challenges, but there are also satisfying rewards for both of you in the end and along the way.

As a trusted teacher, you can help unlock more of your pupil’s potential by:

●      Inspiring the student to work harder at the lesson

●      Encouraging the student to engage more and be invested with the subject

●      Motivating the student to take-on more responsibility or do a more in-depth study of the subject

Here are the milestones that will mark your path towards establishing that trusting relationship that will help your students succeed.

Milestone 1: Show them that you know what you are talking about but also leave room for more learning together 

You need to have a thorough understanding of the content you are teaching for your student’s level. This way, you can readily impart what the student needs to know and adjust your teaching methods to best suit your students’ learning style.

It’s also good to understand your student’s current knowledge and their capacity to learn more.

Teaching a student with special needs, in particular, will require some accommodations and adjustments in the classroom environment as well as your teaching strategy, depending on the pupil’s learning disability. For example, a long and drawn-out lesson may be frustrating to a special needs student, and may need to be broken down into more manageable and easily digestible bits to be absorbed and appreciated.

Knowing your subject matter so well that you can teach using different techniques such as scaffolding, teamwork, or cooperative learning, inquisition, is a sure sign of competence. However, children may sometimes pose questions where you are unsure of the answers. Instead of guessing, it’s best to let the children know that you will take the time to read on it. This shows that you are learning too. Keep in mind that children remember. If you tell them you will research it, do so and get back to them. Perceiving you as competent and trustworthy will also encourage the student’s confidence in learning from you.

Milestone 2: Show the Children that you are true to your word

Your student will look to you for direction and will need to be able to take you at your word.  Not only will you need to master your subject to be able to teach it with credibility, you also need to speak and act with integrity towards your student.

How do you do this? By being consistent and predictable. – The student needs to know what to expect from you. If a certain misbehavior elicits a stern warning from you today, a similar infraction should result in the same response tomorrow.

You should also set clear expectations with your student. By knowing what the end goal is, your student can make sound decisions and follow through on your directions.

What all these boil down to is whether or not your student can rely on you to act in a consistent manner in line with the goals you set so that he or she can learn and act accordingly.

Milestone 3: Treat the student as a person and not just as a learner. Understand and connect with your Students

While your primary role in your student’s life is to facilitate learning, you should also take into consideration other factors outside the classroom or learning setting that will affect his or her ability to learn. For example, is the student’s home conducive for supplemental learning, or is the pupil’s commute to and from school too taxing? Is the student grappling with problems with family or peers which can distract from absorbing or retaining your teaching?

One way to overcome this kind of learning obstacle is to connect with the student at his or her level. Take a few minutes to talk to your student about his or her life outside of your classroom, such as his or her dealings with family and friends, or hobbies that captured the student’s imagination. Let the child show you other things that sparked his or her interest or feel competent at. Not only will you establish a personal connection, you may also get insights on how to best teach your subject.

Milestone 4:  Show the Children that you Respect and Acknowledge their feelings

Children are very observant of your body language, tone of voice and how you handle situations inside the classroom. A common scenario in a toddler’s classroom involves grabbing toys. As a teacher, you model how to solve the conflict by providing the students with words like “Can I borrow” or  “Can I have a turn after five minutes”. Later on, you’ll realize that your students are mimicking your actions and you’ll hear them replay your actions should the situation arise again.

It’s also good to explain if the child did something wrong, acknowledge that they are hurt and demonstrate how they could have done differently next time. Showing the children that you respect their feelings allows them to respect your feelings too.

Milestone 5: Make Learning Fun

Learning usually entails many hours of work from both you and the student. That doesn’t mean, however, that the work should be dull and boring for either of you. Fun in learning is anything but frivolous: studies have shown that when a lesson is presented in a fun and engaging way, the student will be more willing to participate or take risks. The lesson is better absorbed and retained because the process of learning it was enjoyable and memorable for the student.

Sharing funny jokes and anecdotes, incorporating the student’s interest into the subject, and even using a gamified strategy wherein the student accomplishes the lesson in stages to win prizes or simply bragging rights can go a long way in making you someone the student would like to spend time with as well as learn from.

Milestone 6: Give Students Responsibilities. Trust Your Students.

Renowned educator Thomas Carruthers said, “A teacher is one who makes himself progressively unnecessary.”

As a teacher, you provide direction and guidance for your student’s learning journey. Once you have piqued their interest, encourage them to share what they have learned or lead discussions. You will be surprised by some of the insights you can gain from the experiences they share.

As their learning grows, he or she may even wish to take steps in learning beyond what you impart or even wholly independent from you. At this stage, it can be said that your student has developed enough competence and discipline that you can trust that he or she no longer needs your supervision in pursuing further study.   Let them explore! Developing a drive for self-directed learning is a sign that what your teaching has resonated. Trust that what you have taught them will guide his or her pursuit of knowledge, even without you present.

Conclusion

The journey of establishing a trusting relationship with your student involves growth, not just in the student but in yourself as well. You’ll find that once you’ve developed trust between you and your students, teaching and learning is fun and more productive. Children will always be more likely to respond and engage in your activities once you’ve developed that positive relationship.

Going through these milestones of building rapport with students is a kind of metamorphosis for you in the eyes of the student: you transform from a relative stranger with authority on your first meeting, to a trusted advisor, mentor or guide in his or her continuing journeys in learning.

As you undergo the changes required to achieve this kind of relationship, you will find yourself becoming, not just a better teacher, but a better and more open human being as well.

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The child who is ‘left behind’ most is the one who leaves school without transition readiness.

Dr. James Stanfield, Ed.D.

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