Build a community of learners

Effective teachers know who their students are, and value and respect their contributions.

Photo of two students working together

“I belong”

Key questions for educators to ask:

  • What do I know about the students I teach?
  • How am I building a relationship with my students?
  • How do I allow students to get to know each other?
  • How do I ensure students feel safe within the learning environment?

To meet the potential of every learner within a ‘diversity of learners’, it is important wherever possible to get to know students as individuals. Getting to know students by name, communicating with them on a regular basis, and making yourself available and approachable, shows that you are interested in who they are. Likewise, listening closely to individual students in class, as well as to the class as a group, and responding thoughtfully, tells your students you value their opinions and contributions.

Equally important in building positive relationships is making sure students have a ‘sense of belonging’. This can be with teachers, peers, clubs or the organisation as a whole. Educators can support a student’s sense of belonging by facilitating activities which help to establish positive relationships between and amongst members of groups. These can include ice-breaker activities, group work opportunities and the setting up of learning communities. (Griffiths, 2010)

Having high expectations of students has also been shown to have a positive impact on behaviour and outcomes. According to studies carried out by Griffiths (2010) students who think more is expected of them, “tend to do better than those who sense that less is expected of them, regardless of their actual ability”.

Articulating expected behavioural guidelines can be critical for a student’s sense of safety and freedom to learn and is therefore a further essential component of the building and maintenance of good relationships. Educators can explicitly guide students on how they should act towards one another, cooperate, respect one another and speak directly to one another (Griffiths, 2010).