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Arguably the quality of the relationships teachers have with students is the keystone of effective management and perhaps even the entirety of teaching. There are two complementary dynamics that constitute an effective teacher–student relationship. The first is the extent to which the teacher gives students the sense that he is providing guidance and control both behaviorally and academically. In effect, the teacher must somehow communicate the message: “You can count on me to provide clear direction in terms of your learning and in terms of behavior. I take responsibility for these issues.” The second dynamic is the extent to which the teacher provides a sense that teacher and students are a team devoted to the well-being of all participants. In effect, the teacher must somehow communicate the message: “We are a team here and succeed or fail as a team. Additionally, I have a stake personally in the success of each one of you.”
In the Classroom
Looking in on our classroom scenario, Mr. Hutchins makes a concerted effort each day to ensure that students have the perception that he is concerned about the well-being of the class as a whole as well as each individual student. He realizes that it does not matter how he feels on a given day, but it does matter what he does. Students cannot know his thoughts and feelings, but they do interpret his actions, even seemingly insignificant ones. Consequently, each day he reminds himself to engage in behaviors such as meeting students at the door as they come into class, calling them by their first names, smiling at them, and even engaging in playful banter when appropriate. He finds that on days when he does not really feel like doing these things, his mood tends to change throughout the day as students respond positively to his overtures.