What is the importance of teacher-student relationships?

“I have come to notice that when you are on the right terms with a teacher, you can ask them questions freely. They push you to excel and in case you need a recommendation, they are always there to help. Teachers have high hopes in you and even believe that you can make it even when your performance is poor. Teachers will help you take part in leadership programmes; they will push you till you win. Therefore, without a teacher-student connection, education is tricky,” says Tona Bonitta, a student of Maranyundo Girls School, Nyamata.

Successful teachers are those who have the aptitude to make the most out of learning for all students. Developing positive relationships between teachers and students is a basic feature of excellent teaching. Positive teacher-student relationships promote a sense of belonging and encourage students to participate cooperatively.

“A teacher can empower or kill a student’s mindset, it is important that teachers give encouragement to students, especially by empowering them to do subjects that they think are hard. When teachers are free with the student, they won’t only teach but also bother to know what the child is weak at, and support them,” says Samuel Kamuzinzi, a teacher at Kigali Parents School, Kimironko.

He says that good teacher-student relationships help the teacher when counselling students on disciplinary issues. Since some parents are busy and rarely get time to do this, teachers do the parenting because they are with the learners most of the time.

Kamuzinzi says that when you are friendly to a learner, you make it easy for them to trust and approach you when they need guidance or assistance. Students fear tough teachers. If a child fears a teacher, they might not be able to even pass the subject handled by that teacher.

Aggrey Buhungiro, a teacher at Kigali Parents School, says that teacher-student connections allow teachers to treat children the same, regardless of their background. Learners need care, they could be going through a tough phase, so teachers should be willing to provide an ear.

He urges teachers not to isolate any student because they will feel left out, or lonely, which might affect their grades. For instance, if you are to give extra revision, give it to all students, don’t only choose bright students and leave the rest.

Buhungiro adds that teachers need to groom kids because they are their parents at school, when they notice weird character in a child, they should discipline them and show them the right way, and not let them to go astray.

Building teacher’s trust

Collins Odhiambo, a counsellor and teacher, says teachers should provide structure, respond to students positively, and give rules and regulations that are sensible and continually reinforced. In these situations, a student’s trust in their teacher will increase and they will understand that their teacher has their best interests at heart.

He says that great teachers communicate with enthusiasm and passion, they display a positive attitude, and make learning fun which heartens students’ attendance and participation. They show an interest in their student’s lives outside the classroom.

Odhiambo says that teachers should take a genuine interest in the wellbeing of their students. They should treat students with respect; a teacher who respects their students will earn respect from their students, teachers should also create a secure and safe environment for their learners.

For a positive teacher-student relationship to exist, instructors must be reliable, respectful, and empathetic to students and their families. Teachers should take into account each individual student’s background and family situation, Kamuzinzi notes.

Buhungiro says that teachers should know the names of the students they teach, and know the families they come from. Sometimes, children might be violent because of the kind of environment they come from; they witness their parents or guardians fighting. A teacher has to advise learners accordingly.

Odhiambo advises teachers to allow students to write letters about who they are, their lives and families, as this helps teachers know the kind of child they are teaching.

Kamuzinzi says that communication and responsibility are very important to student-teacher relationships. Teachers should take students concerns and opinions seriously. Students need to know that they are ultimately responsible for their actions, they should also understand that they are in charge of their own learning—teachers just give assistance and guidance.