By Vanessa Abrahams, CEI Intern
Years ago a colorful and eccentric professor of mine inadvertently led me to consider the teacher-student bond as it relates to academic success. She was a senior English professor and more than likely the greatest educator I’d ever encountered. The qualities she possessed that made her awesome were her personable nature and determination to see every student succeed. She was highly aware of the issues students faced and expressed genuine concern for students while challenging each one to produce higher quality work. She appealed to her students by considering each student to be a separate entity and acknowledging that students have different challenges and aspirations. Having taken two of her courses, I watched her cater her teaching style to her incoming students.
Discovering how to successfully relate to students is inherent to student success and achievement (‘A Positive Student-Teacher Relationship,’ 2014). Logically this makes sense given the number of hours teachers spend in classrooms instructing, entertaining, engaging, and interacting with students on a daily basis. Although compulsory hour requirements vary across the United States, most states generally require students spend between 900 and 1,000 hours in the classroom every year (Hull & Newport, 2011). During this time, students are not only engaging with classroom materials, but also with their peers. Throughout public school, I remember overhearing my peers gossip about our teachers’ seemingly uneventful yet mysterious lives and invent fantastical rumors about their pasts. My middle school teachers, who shared their life experiences, when relevant, were given a chance to clear the misinformation and direct students’ attention back to teaching.
How To Foster a Teacher-Student Bond
While there is no prescribed formula for fostering a successful teacher-student bond, there are character qualities that have proven to be successful. In October, NPR launched their 50 Great Teachers series and in November interviewed five remarkable educators who shared their thoughts on education and their experience in the classroom (Kamenetz, 2014). What one might draw from their experiences is the nature of teacher-student interactions rely on the respect developed between teachers and their students.
The description I used to give my favorite teachers was ‘˜nice’ or ‘˜kind,’ but what I was touching on was personality. Although it might differ for some, what separated the good and worst teachers, for me, was
- how they attempted to relate to me,
- if they offered to stay later to help me
- how much they challenged me and
- how they complimented my work.
In addition, passion, accessibility and appropriate feedback are necessary to encourage a bond between teacher and student. In the supermarket years ago, my young mind saw my teacher as the possessor of knowledge and had difficultly isolating the person from the profession; however, as I grew, I learned how to see the person.
A Positive Student-Teacher Relationship. (2014, Mar. 6). Deccan Herald. Retrieved from http://www.deccanherald.com/content/389965/a-positive-student-teacher-relationship.html#
Hull & Newport (2011). Time in school: How does the U.S. compare?. Retreived from http://www.centerforpubliceducation.org/Main-Menu/Organizing-a-school/Time-in-school-How-does-the-US-compare
Kamenetz, A. (2014). 5 great teachers on what makes a great teacher. Retrieved from http://www.npr.org/blogs/ed/2014/11/08/360426108/five-great-teachers-on-what-makes-a-great-teacher
Note: CEI welcomes Vanessa, our latest intern; Vanessa recently graduated from the University of Maryland with a double major in English and Communications. We are looking forward to her contributions to CEI.