Quality instruction isn’t the only factor that determines students’ academic achievement. Students’ sense of belonging to the school community is also significant to student achievement. A growing body of research shows the sense of belonging or “connectedness” to the school community also has positive educational outcomes for all students.
“Sense of belonging” is defined as the extent to which students feel valued, respected, safe, and welcome in the school community. It is positively associated with high academic achievement, high school graduation rates, and school satisfaction. In addition, sense of belonging has been linked to school attachment, college attendance, and educational aspirations.
The teacher-students relationship is one of the greatest predictors of students’ sense of belonging to school.
For example, teachers promote students’ feelings of belongingness by creating a culture of mutual respect, community, and caring within the classroom. Students who have established positive relationships with teachers benefit from the academic and social support they receive, which further increases students’ sense of belonging. Positive relationships with teachers have also been found to diminish students’ concerns related to academic performance and increase students’ motivation to succeed in school.
Now that you know why teachers’ relationships with students are important, here are a few suggestions to get connected:
1. Choose assignments wisely.
Select assignments that allow you to get to know more about your students. Assign writing assignments or projects designed to help you learn more about your students’ family, friends, personalities, and interests.
2. Talk less and listen more.
How can you learn about your students if you never provide opportunities for them to speak? Begin or end the day with a Friendship Circle. Friendship Circles are a great way to learn about your students’ concerns, needs, and interests. Friendship Circles also promote communication and respectful relationships with their peers.
3. Create a safe learning environment.
Promote a sense of community within the classroom. The classroom should be a safe space for everyone to learn from failure and success. Remind students that everyone is to be respected and supported in the classroom.
4. Don’t forget your parents.
Parents are experts on their children and great allies. Don’t wait until there’s a problem before you reach out to your parents. Establish regular communication with parents through phone calls, quick notes, text messages, classroom newspapers, or emails.
Hopefully, this information helps you have a successful school year!
Feature image courtesy of Flickr, KOMUnews.