There’s a difference for instructors between getting along with students and finding a way to work with them throughout the duration of the class. Instructors that develop meaningful interactions with their students often find that they are also promoting the development of effective working relationships. When students feel that they have a connection with their instructor they are likely to participate in the class, maintain communication, and be receptive to the feedback and guidance provided.
The adult learning process is an active, developmental process that is dependent upon the student and the instructor being able to work together in a productive manner, for the purpose creating a learning environment that encourages the adult’s performance, engagement, and motivation in the class. When students have developed a sense of collaboration with the class and their instructor a transformative process occurs. Sara Rimm-Kaufman, Ph.D. has found that “positive teacher-student relationships draw students into the process of learning and promote their desire to learn.” Students who do not develop this type of connection may become disconnected from the class and withdraw their participation.
Within the book, Educator’s Guide to Preventing and Solving Discipline Problems by Mark Boynton and Christine Boynton, they have indicated that “when students feel that you value and care for them as individuals, they are more willing to comply with your wishes.” The more that the students perceive openness from their instructors the less resistant they are likely to be when constructive feedback is offered.
Building successful working relationships with your students is the product of well-developed interactions. Instructors have an ability to develop a personal connection with their students and establish a basis for effective working relationships through the following techniques:
1. Demonstrate responsiveness by addressing questions and concerns in a timely manner.
2. Offer feedback about performance by discussing students’ strengths, areas of development, and available resources that address their developmental needs.
3. Recognize contributions made by students during class discussions and build on their responses by adding insight and experience.
4. Challenge students to increase their capacity to learn through encouragement and the use of questions that help them develop a greater understanding of the course topics.
5. Establish learning environment conditions that allow students to participate in the learning process.
6. Encourage students to ask questions about the class or their progress in the class.
7. Pay attention to the tone that is used with all communication