Building rapport is one of an umbrella of strategies whose goal is to create a classroom your students love being part of.
And why is that important?
Because when your students look forward to your class, everything is easier.
From behavior to attentiveness to work habits, every area of classroom management is made better.
But you must start on the first day of school.
You must start when your students are eager and most receptive.
You must start the moment they enter your classroom.
Stand at your classroom door and personally say hello to every student as they walk in. Look them in the eye, ask them their name, and then introduce yourself.
It’s well worth the few minutes. The giving, respectful nature of the gesture makes an immediate impact and will prompt them to reciprocate respect and kindness right back at you.
The oft-recommended advice that you should never smile the first month of the school year is hogwash. In fact, smiling generously on the very first day is a great way to build rapport.
It makes you instantly likable. It puts your students at ease. It wins them over to your way of doing things before you even open your mouth.
It’s important on the first day of school for your students to see you as a real person, and not a robot built by the government to tell them what to do.
A quick and easy way to do this is to share a story about your childhood. Shoot for something funny or amusing, perhaps about your own first day of school experience. Nothing builds rapport faster.
No, you don’t have to tell riotous jokes or be knee-slapping funny. Just be open to sharing a laugh with your new class. Humor is everywhere and your spontaneous enjoyment of it will increase your likability tenfold.
It will cause your students to want to get to know you, listen to you, and behave for you. It makes your sky-high expectations of them not only go down a lot smoother, but be readily, eagerly fulfilled.
A couple weeks ago we talked about the importance of promising to follow your classroom management plan. But it’s also important to promise your students that your personality will remain consistent.
So before your first classroom management lesson, tell them directly. Promise that you will never yell or speak to them disrespectfully. It’s a simple statement, but so, so powerful—for both them and you.
The rapport-building strategies above are simple, wee little gestures, barely registering on your effort meter.
But combined with a pin-neat room environment and detailed teaching of rules, consequences, and routines, they’re game-changers.
They create leverage and influence, instant likability and leadership presence. They make your immovable boundary lines of behavior matter to students.
They build an immediate relationship, engender trust and respect, and fill your students with the confidence that with you at the helm anything is possible.
Your students will exit your classroom excited to tell their parents how much they love their new teacher and can’t wait to get to school the next day.
You’ll just smile and wave.
And as you close the door on the first day of school, you’ll breathe easy, quietly triumphant.
Because you’ve just set the tone for the best year of teaching you’ve ever had.
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