The Power of Rapport in the Classroom
Willy A Renandya, 15 April 2022
Rapport refers to a good, healthy and positive relationship that exists between a teacher and their students. When there is good rapport in the classroom, we can expect to see both the teacher and students working harmoniously together towards a common goal, i.e., making sure that there is a lot of learning happening. Research has consistently shown that rapport has a strong and direct link to students’ academic achievement.
This is not surprising as teaching is not simply a business transaction between two parties (I sell/teach, you buy/learn), but a process that involves the two parties building mutual trust and respect such that optimal teaching and learning can happen in the classroom.
Rapport is associated with the following healthy and nurturing classroom environments that support student learning:
- Higher levels of student motivation and engagement
- Higher quality of student learning
- Lower instances of student misbehaviour
- Lower absenteeism
- Lower student dropout rates
- Higher feelings of job satisfaction
How does one build rapport in the classroom? Here are some ideas:
- Know your students well: their names, their likes, hobbies, social and cultural backgrounds, their strengths and weaknesses, etc.
- Tell your students about yourself: your beliefs, favourite books, movies, life goals, your biases, etc.
- Show your students that you care about them
- Show your students that you have strong belief that every one of them can achieve success despite their backgrounds and prior learning experiences
- Be authentic. If you value reading and want your students to love reading, you should model a good reading behaviour.
- Be open to criticisms and suggestions from your students
- Be willing to admit mistakes so that your students can see that making mistakes is an important part of learning
- Be willing to admit that there are many things you don’t know and that you are willing and eager to learn new things
- Treat your students with respect and trust
- Make yourself available for those you need extra help
There are many other ways to build rapport in the classroom. You just need to keep an open mind and find out for yourself the sort of things that you need to do to nurture a healthy relationship between you and your students.
Finally, it’s worth remembering that when you don’t have good rapport with your students, chances are higher that they may not soon develop a feeling of apathy towards learning, which leads to them feeling demotivated. When that happens, students simply stop learning.