The Chalk Blog

10 Ways to Build Relationships With Students Who Challenge You

Building a rewarding relationship

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Ever think that students behave better for teachers they like? Rita Pierson agrees! 

Ever heard of the relationship bank account? The concept is simple, to take something out of said account, you need a balance from which you can withdraw “funds” when you correct behavior! There is only one way to get that…positive deposits! 

Ever heard of the praise ratio? Experts disagree as to whether it’s 4:1, 5:1, or 6:1, but either way, you should be praising (building the relationship bank account) at least five times as often as you make a withdrawal.    

To make this easy for you, here is a list of ten simple (FREE) ways to build the relationship bank account with students who challenge you: 

1) Greet them by name every single day. A high-five or a smile can be powerful, too! 

2) Ask them something about their interests, after school activities, or family, and then LISTEN. To show you are truly engaged, ask at least one follow up question! Then, LISTEN again. 

3) Have lunch with them! They can even bring a friend. Be sure to interact with them. Humor can be effective here, too. 

4) Play a game with them! Tic-Tac-Toe and Paper-Rock-Scissors are quick, even if you play the best two out of three!  

5) Catch them doing things right and provide specific feedback on the prosocial behavior you witnessed tied to a value. Example: “Excellent work bringing the library book back. It shows me that you value responsibility.” 

6) Sometimes #5 is hard to spot if we feel particularly challenged, so instead compliment them on anything you notice. Example: “I see you have a pretty yellow shirt on today.” Or “Nice haircut!” Students just want to be seen. 

7) Share a funny video, meme, or picture you found. 

8) Ask them about their favorite music, TV shows, or movies. Then, do some quick research and surprise them with new knowledge on the topic the following day! 

9) Tell them about yourself. Be vulnerable. They want to know you are human. 

10) Ask them for help! Many students like to have special jobs in the classroom, and students often have skills and talents to share! 

Download a printable copy of this list
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These ideas are truly just a starting point. Remember, the students who challenge you often need a solid relationship with an adult. By building the relationship bank account, not only are you ensuring you can eventually make a withdrawal, but you are also decreasing the likelihood that you will need to do so! 


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Topics: Instructional Strategies, Positive Behavior Supports, Teacher Burnout

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