One of the most valuable things you can do for yourself as a teacher is to build trust with your students and THAT boils down to one word: RELATIONSHIPS.

Let’s look at 3 ways you can build that trust with your students in this video here.

Happy viewing!





One of the most valuable things you can do for yourself as a teacher is to build trust with your students and THAT boils down to one word: RELATIONSHIPS

Do they trust you?

If you’re having a hard time in your classroom or with a certain group of students, chances are a lot of the issues are stemming from trust.  And the hard question to ask yourself is, “Do your students trust you?”

Now, hang on a minute.  I know you are a trustworthy person, but this is actually less about YOU and more about your students.  You may have some students that adore you and maybe a few that think you’re pretty darn cool, but chances are that there are some students that don’t trust you or are just a bit weary when it comes to trusting people in general.

These trust issues can lead to power struggles,, apathy in your classroom and some downright bad behaviors that leave you throwing your hands up in the air.

Believe I get it.

Now, I bet you really want your students to respect you, I mean, you’re an adult, a teacher, you deserve respect, but you can’t demand respect, you have to earn it…

Yep – even if you are the oldest, wisest, most brilliant of teachers… you have to earn your students’ trust.

And all of this boils down to one thing and that is RELATIONSHIPS!

Building Relationship to Build Trust

If you want your students to do good work, stay calm in your classroom or just respond to you when you need them to, you have to build your relationship with them.

Think about it for a moment.  If you can think of at least one student that would benefit from a little relationship building, type, “At Least One!” in the comments below.

Ok, let me give you an example of one of my students and then I’m going to give you 3 ways to build relationships and earn that trust.

A Story about Building Trust

First, let me tell you about Sam.  Sam is one of my students who has a very hard time in school.  He needs a lot of accommodations and modifications with his school work and he’s at the age now where this really is affecting his self-worth.  In other words, he does NOT think people like him, he gets really defensive and absolutely has trust issues when it comes to peers and adults alike.

At the beginning of the school year, I tried to make sure Sam was included in all the activities and that he understood his schedule and got the small group or one-to-one attention he needed for his academics while he was part of my general ed classroom.

But see, it didn’t really matter, because he resisted everything I tried.  Then, one day I decided to just make a conscious effort to start up a conversation with Sam once he entered the classroom.

That first day, I greeted him using his name as he walked right by me and then made a simple comment about his jacket.  Then, as he unpacked his backpack, I casually went back over to him and commented on a Rubix Cube he happened to have with him that day.

I asked him if he knew how to use it and if he was any good and he started to show me how well he could maneuver the parts.  Of course, I marveled at his dexterity and then, he even asked if I wanted to try it out. I fumbled with it for a moment while he laughed at me and then I asked him to take it away from me so he could get ready for class.

I swear to you, the rest of that day, Sam was almost pleasant to work with!

1. Show Your Students You Care!

It’s amazing how having a conversation and sharing a little back and forth with a student can make an amazing difference in your relationship.

Now, I make it a point to make contact with Sam every day and if for some reason I miss it, it shows and I have to do a little bit of damage control by going over to him and striking up a little conversation.

Now Sam isn’t the only one that I need to touch base with every day, there are plenty of others!  In fact, there are about 5 students in my class who really need, not just like, but really NEED a quality check-in to have a successful day.

So, that would be my number one way to build relationships in your classroom: start a conversation with a student to show you really care about them.

In THIS video, I mention all about how important it is to show your students you care.  It’s a foundational skill of every SEAL Teacher.

2. Greet Your Students

The next way to build relationships is to make sure you greet your students at your door.  Now in my case, I actually don’t have a door to my classroom. I work in a modified open concept school. Ya…  it can be challenging.

Greeting your kids at the door seems so simple… and it IS, but you kind of have to work at it a bit.  Here’s what I mean.

Firstly, you need to make sure your classroom is ready so that you CAN be at the entrance of your classroom in order to greet your students.

So, for me, I have to make sure the schedule is on the board, the morning work it in the right spot and the welcoming Soundtracking music is playing.  And, if for some reason, those three things are not ready (because, well, sometimes I am just rushing like crazy in the morning), then my number one priority is to get to my greeting spot.

I’ve even trained my students to wait by the entrance so I can make sure I am at my post before they start walking in.

Now, I have to tell you about the amazing music teacher at my school.  Not only does she greet each of her classes at her door, but at the end of music class, she lines the students up and says good-bye to them individually with a fist bump, high-five or a hug.  I love watching it because the kids’ smiles say it all. They know she is working hard to build know each one of them and, because of that, she earns their trust.

Which brings me to the final strategy for building trust with your students: KNOW THEIR NAMES!

3. Know Your Students’ Names

The best way to destroy trust with your students is to call them by the wrong name.  Now sometimes you can get away with it, but only after you’ve built some rapport with them in the first place.  It’s kind of a catch 22.

When you are first getting to know your students, be sure to take the time to learn their names.  And if you’re not too good at it, joke around with the kids letting them know that right away.

When I taught music to middle schoolers, I would get 200 new students a year and have to know 600 names of 6th through 8th graders.  I made it my mission in the first month of school to make sure I learned every one of those 200 new names and brushed up on the other 400.

It was such a good feeling to stand in the hallway and be able to call out names when the kids switched classes.  The students really appreciated the fact that I knew their names and I KNOW it’s important to your students as well.  I might even say it’s more important to those kids in middle and high school.

And as a music teacher or other arts or specialist teacher, you have the unique opportunity to learn and know every student’s name in the entire school.  It’s pretty awesome!

So, I haven’t taught music now for about 12 years and for some of those students who I had my first couple of years teaching there, over 18 years ago, you know, before I started having kids of my own that sucked some of my brain cells out,  I can still recall their name if I see them at the grocery store. It has actually shocked their 30-year-old adult self… and me as well.

Activities to Learn Students’ Names

Now, when I have a new class I do a lot of activities that help me to remember names very quickly.  My favorite is a movement name game.

For this, we stand in a circle and one person says their name with a movement and then the whole rest of the class says that person’s name with the movement 3 times back.  As we go through, I’ll stare at the person (and yes, I warn the students that I will stare at them in order to remember their name). And every 5 or so students, I’ll stop the game and point at and review each students’ name.  That activity provides me (and the other students) with visual, aural and kinesthetic cues to remembering the names of classmates.

What’s YOUR favorite way to learn students’ names?  I’d love to hear some of your ideas in the comments, so be sure to share your favorite name learning activity with the rest of us.

Make Connections with Your Students

Relationships are so SUPER important if you are going to build trust with your students and I’ll be honest with you once again: if you want to teach ANY content to your class effectively, they have to trust you first!

If you want to learn more about how to connect with students, you can grab my freebie called Connection Sessions.  It’s filled with 14 ways to connect with students and includes small, medium and large ways to do so. So, depending on your time or energy, you can find a way that fits you!

I’m Elizabeth Peterson.  Thanks for watching. And remember to keep inspiring yourself so that you can be inspiring to your students.


Grab this free resource: Connection Sessions

Watch this next: The 3Cs to What Makes a Good Teacher

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