The positive influence of trusting relationships on student learning cannot be overstated. Whether the learning environment is in-person, remote, hybrid, or in continual flux, one key factor remains constant: the relationship between students and their teachers is critical. In this excerpt video, “The Importance of Relationships and Trust” listen to Eddie, Destiny, Lola, and Juliebeth, students at the Salem Academy Charter School, a trauma-sensitive demonstration school, speak passionately about the impact their trusted teachers have on their education and passion for learning. (Watch the full video, “What Does a Trauma-Sensitive Middle/High School Look Like? here”)
The Importance of Teacher and Student Relationships
According to the American Psychological Association, “Teachers who foster positive relationships with their students create classroom environments more conducive to learning and meet students’ developmental, emotional and academic needs.” In addition, a student who feels a strong personal connection to their teacher, talks with their teacher frequently, and receives more constructive guidance and praise rather than just criticism from their teacher “is likely to trust their teacher more, show more engagement in learning, behave better in class and achieve at higher levels academically.” An analysis by the Review of Educational Research of 46 studies found that when teacher-student relationships are strong, improvements are seen in key areas, such as student academic engagement, attendance, grades, disciplinary actions, and school dropout rates.
Developing and nurturing trusting relationships between students and teachers is central to building a trauma-sensitive learning environment. Trauma-sensitive schools recognize that educators need support and planning time to prioritize developing positive, caring, collaborative relationships with each other, so that they can in turn prioritize building relationships with students and help students feel welcomed and safe.
With consistent student attendance now being jeopardized by remote or hybrid-learning in many districts, it has become increasingly imperative that school systems not let up on staying connected to students. They must remain focused on creating and maintaining learning environments, whether in-person or remote, that support and strengthen relationships, trust, and respect between teachers and students.
In this excerpt video, we hear that:
- Eddie, a 10th grader, feels more comfortable answering questions in class because he feels comfortable around his teachers.
- Destiny, a 12th grader, has faith in the resources and support available at her school because of the faith she has in her teachers.
- Lola, a 10th grader, is better able to hear and respect what she is being taught in school because of the respect she has developed? for her teachers.
- Juliebeth, an 11th grader, credits extracurricular activities with helping her build stronger bonds with other students and the school in general.
As summarized by Ms. Onembo, the Salem Academy Charter School’s Dean of Students, “Students do better if they’re connected to a community. They also do better when they have relationships with people in the building.”
(Earlier, we invited you to watch the excerpt video, “Building Trusting Relationships Between Teachers & Students.” See the complete video, “What Does a Trauma-Sensitive Middle/High School Look Like? here”)
- Please see Keeping Connections Strong: A Priority for Trauma-Sensitive Remote Learning for input from educators about the importance of maintaining strong connections with students and their families as well as maintaining a sense of cohesion among staff during COVID.
- Please visit TLPI’s website for additional resources, including our publications, available to download at no cost, as well as other blogs and videos.