With everything else that you have to worry about, building positive relationships with your students can sometimes seem less important than more immediate tasks at hand. Creating lesson plans, grading papers, and dealing with unruly students are only some of the never-ending tasks an educator has to undertake.

But, there are several reasons why teachers need to care about the kind of rapport, or relationship that they have with their students.

Some of the benefits to building rapport include increased student motivation, positive classroom community, and higher educational outcomes. As students feel cared for and valued, they become increasingly involved in their own academic success.

On the other hand, negative relationships with students, such as those that are characterized by conflicts and power struggles, have been linked to academic failure and at-risk behavior. This is true for students in primary, middle, and high school.

Other researchers have also found that stronger bonds between students and teachers lead to higher academic achievement, particularly in schools that are part of the private sector (like Islamic schools) and serve students who are of low income status (Crosnoe, et al., 2004). Educational researchers Hambre and Pianta conclude that strong student-teacher relationships help students

“feel safer and more secure in the school setting, feel more competent, make more positive connections with peers, and make greater academic gains.” It is, they argue, a vital component of students’ overall success.

As teachers, we have a lot of power to help students become confident, well-adjusted individuals who can succeed in this world and the next by building relationships with them that help them move towards this goal. To establish a positive relationship, we must show students that we genuinely care for their well-being, both emotionally and academically. Once they trust that we are genuine in our concern for them, their motivation to succeed in class will follow.

Shaza Khan has her PhD in Teaching and Curriculum.

Crosnoe, R., Johnson, M. K., & Elder, G. H. (2004). Intergenerational bonding in school: The behavioral and contextual correlates of student-teacher relationships. Sociology of Education, 77(1), 60-81.

Hamre, B.K., & Pianta, R.C. (2006). Student-teacher relationships as a source of support and risk in schools. Children’s Needs III (pp. 59-72). Bethesda, MD: NASP