Positive Teacher-Child Relationships

Asking teachers to develop positive teacher-child relationships may seem like an insult to the very core of being a teacher.  Most teachers feel that this is a primary aspect of their job and of course they do this with every child. Unfortunately, their best intentions to engage in positive teacher-child relationships with all of the children in their classroom can take a back seat to one or more of the following:

•    Too many curriculum requirements

•    Too few adults to share their time equally with each child

•    Expectation that children can wait for their time and attention

•    Noise and/or activity level in classroom

•    Maintenance duties

•    Adherence to lesson plans

•    Limited time in the day

•    Child(ren) with challenging behavior monopolizing a teacher’s time

The benefits of building positive teacher-child relationships are numerous and perhaps one of the most significant parts of a Support Plan for addressing children’s challenging behavior.  When children feel connected to adults in their environment, they are more likely to work towards pleasing adults in their environment.  The same is true when adults feel connected to children.  They are more likely to work harder towards meeting the needs of children with an altruistic attitude rather than an obligation because it is part of their job.  Below are some strategies to try that lead to positive teacher-child relationships:

•  Engage in one-to-one interactions with children regularly.

•  Get on child’s level, face-to-face when speaking with them.

•  Use pleasant, calm voice.

•  Use simple language.

•  Provide warm, responsive physical contact regularly.

•  Follow the child’s lead.

•  Help children understand classroom expectations.

•  Redirect child to divert from challenging behavior.

•  Listen to children.  Give them time to talk.

•  Encourage children to listen to others.

•  Acknowledge children for their accomplishments and effort.

 The outcomes of positive teacher child interactions documented by research are more positive peer interactions and more cooperative interactions with teachers.  Acknowledging teachers who engage in positive teacher-child relationships is something we can all look for and reinforce.  It is often said, that the teacher who connected with us and took the time to develop a positive relationship with us was the person who most influenced or affected our life.

[Based on:  What Works Briefs Training Kit #8 (http://www.vanderbilt.edu/csefel/trainingkits.html) and Building Positive Teacher Child Relationships Handout #12.  And here is the summary text of this behavior tip as a pdf in case you’d like to use it as a handout.]

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