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Tool: Helping beginning teachers form positive relationships with students

Purpose of this tool: Beginning teachers enter the profession because they want to make a difference in their students' lives. When they encounter difficulties with student behavior, however, many beginning teachers experience frustration and feelings of helplessness and may enter into negative and antagonistic relationships with their students. This tool helps you work with beginning teachers to form positive relationships with students.

How to use this tool: Review the grid in Balanced use of strategies for building positive relationships with students. It lists the practices that facilitate positive and caring teacher/student relationships and provides space for beginning teachers to describe how they enact these practices in their classrooms over the course of a week. Meet with the beginning teacher and discuss the different components of caring practice identified in the grid. What might each of these practices look like in classrooms in the school and, in particular, in the her or his classroom? Asking this question helps you work with this teacher to develop a shared language of classroom practice. After the teacher completes the grid, meet with her or him to discuss the results. The following questions and comments can help you engage in a productive dialogue with the beginning teacher:

  • Looking at this grid, what kinds of practices do you feel you are most comfortable with? Why do you think you are comfortable with these?
  • Looking at this grid, what kinds of practices do you feel least successful with? Why do you think this is the case?
  • What is different about the practices you currently do well and those you are not successful or comfortable with?
  • I've noticed you didn't have anything written in this area. What's going on in this situation that is difficult for you? Are there any other ways that you can think about why this situation is difficult for you? How might this situation be difficult for your students? How can I help you address this area? (Encourage the beginning teacher to develop a range of hypotheses here. Oftentimes, re-framing student and teacher behavior can open up new avenues for action and for insight that can lead to improved teacher/student relationships).
  • It looks like you are doing really well in _____. Tell me about something you felt particularly positive about in this area this week. How can you build on this success with your students?