establishing rapportWhen teaching any class, the most important thing is to establish a strong rapport with your students. In an ESL class, the students are bound to be very hesitant and shy, lacking confidence in their abilities and possibly being in a classroom full of strangers. It is very important for the teacher to help build a strong bond between the students as well as between the students and the teacher, and to gain the students’ trust and respect. The students must have faith in the teacher’s abilities and recognize that the teacher has their best interests at heart if they are to succeed in the class. Having a strong rapport between the teacher and the students will help keep the students motivated to do their best.
Since each student is different, and a teacher will encounter very different dynamics from one classroom to the next, there is no set way to build a strong rapport with your students. However, there are a multitude of tips and ideas that the teacher must choose from and mix together to form the strongest possible bond with their students. Also, establishing rapport isn’t a one-time thing; it is a continuous effort by the teacher to learn more about their students and adapt their teaching style to fit those students’ needs.
When beginning a class, the first thing a teacher can do is be professionally organized. They may not have had an opportunity yet to physically meet and talk with the students, but they still may have the chance to look through student files and learn about the basic demographic of their future students: age, culture, and anticipated english
ability are nice pieces of information to have before beginning a class. Also, when the students first come into the classroom, the teacher should already have things set up and prepared to begin. The students will be very shy about learning a new language, and seeing a teacher who is “with-it” and ready to begin can go a long way in gaining the students’ confidence.
Now, this should go without saying, but the most important word when it comes to establishing rapport is “respect.” As a teacher, you are trying to earn the students’ respect, but you must keep in mind that the students will only give you their respect if they know that they have yours in return. The students have to know that their teacher will always be respectful and fair with them; if the students see that the teacher isn’t respectful towards some students or treats some students unfairly for a personal reason, it will be difficult for them to respect and listen to their teacher.
In addition, students usually work harder for a teacher who they know really cares about and has a genuine interest in them. If a teacher is constantly forgetting the names of their students or never making any attempt to learn about their students outside of the classroom, students can adopt a “why should I care about what he’s trying to teach if he doesn’t care about me?” mentality. The easiest way to show your students that you care about them is by making small talk and asking little questions. Sometimes students can place a teacher on a pedestal and not think of them as a regular person, but by acting like a normal person and showing the students that you have the same interests and problems as them, you will find that it is easier for the students to relate to you during class. Ask the students about their lives outside of class; learn their names and their interests. Also, encourage your students to establish a strong rapport amongst themselves. As a class, we are all in this together, and the teacher should strive to build a sense of community between the students. This sense of togetherness will not only show up in students helping each other with problems in class, but it could also be seen in students “policing” themselves and helping the teacher maintain discipline and order by not feeding into any troublemakers’ shenanigans.
As a current teacher, and someone who has spent the past 7-8 years working with students in one capacity or another, I understand the importance of having a strong rapport with the students you work with. It is essential to an effective classroom, and your students will be very successful is they know they have your respect and care.
http://www.tesolonline.com/tesol-articles/establishing-rapport/ (All 3 articles)