A Few Ways to Build Student-Teacher Rapport

 “Trust between teachers and students is the affective glue that binds educational relationships together.  Not trusting teachers has several consequences for students. They are unwilling to submit themselves to the perilous uncertainties of new learning. They avoid risk. They keep their most deeply felt concerns private. They view with cynical reserve the exhortations and instructions of teachers.”  – Stephen Brookfield, The Skillful Teacher

Student-teacher rapport forms the “affective glue” at the core of building a learning partnership. Establishing rapport with students and your classroom community creates a positive, trusting learning environment – helping students lower their guard and be less defensive. Knowing your students well is especially important with struggling students who may try to cover up their academic challenges by acting out or trying to be invisible during class.

Many of us are able to quickly build rapport with people we meet in our day-to-day lives. Click: The Magic of Instant Connection describes 5 catalysts for building rapport:

  • Sharing appropriate personal information about universal experiences such as embarrassing moments, challenges
  • Eye contact
  • Showing one’s emotions to another
  • Remembering special events, etc.


  • Facial familiarity (“I’ve seen you before…)
  • Live and/or work near each other


  • Active listening
  • Giving one’s undivided attention (no multi-tasking)
  • Responding to unspoken needs/anticipating needs (“Would you like something to drink?”)
  • Mirroring non-verbal body language


  • Finding common ground
  • Creating an “in-group of two” through shared hobbies, favorite sports team, etc.

Shared Community

  • Shared affinity (i.e., being one of few females in a male dominated discipline)
  • Identifying a shared adversary or cause

Establishing positive rapport is especially crucial in these early weeks of the school year. Make an effort to build an authentic personal connection with each of your students, and keep it up every day, in or out of class, regardless of the challenges that may arise within or outside the classroom.  

About Sara Gray

Director of Communications & Marketing at the National Equity Project www.nationalequityproject.org
This entry was posted in Changing the Discourse, Effective Teaching, Emotional Intelligence, Equity Pedagogy, Learning Partnerships, National Equity Project, Relationships, Schools. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to A Few Ways to Build Student-Teacher Rapport

  1. Jessica Gammell says:


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