Do you ever experience teacher remorse when you think about how well you’ve gotten to know your students? Stop wishing you could turn back time. Instead, enhance your student-teacher relationships with these four ideas.


The school day is approximately 31 percent of a child’s day. Translated, that is seven and a half hours, 450 minutes, or 27,000 seconds. Multiply that by 180 days in a school year: approximately 1,350 hours, 81,000 minutes, or 4,860,000 seconds that an individual spends with his or her teacher each year. Pause a moment to multiply the numbers above by 20-plus (or the number of learners in your class).

Therefore, it seems teachers should know every student’s interests and personality traits like the back of their hand. But, more often than not, this is far from the reality — between attendance, classroom management, instruction, and so on, we’re struggling to find time to make personal connections with our students.

Understand the numbers above only reflect the academic time afforded to teachers, year after year. What’s lacking is the time it takes to build rapport and trust with our students.

As educators, we know there simply is not enough time in the day, week, month, or year to complete our notorious to-do lists. However, we also recognize that establishing positive relationships with learners is imperative.

So, how can we make better connections with our kids? Try one (or more) of these ideas:


1. Eat lunch with your students. We know your time is precious, so it may not be feasible every day, but dedicate one day a week to sit with your students at lunch. Or, invite them to eat with you. Allow the conversation to revolve around nonacademic topics, ask very few questions, but most importantly, do a lot of listening.

2. Designate a daily helper to be your “expert assistant” for the day. The key here is to choose roles for individual students based on their skills and strengths, rotating the assistant every day. Creating the opportunity for leadership will give students a sense of responsibility to help their teacher and classmates.

3. Introduce personalized journaling. Give every student a journal. From the beginning, make it understood that this will be a safe space for both of you — the teacher and the student. Let the students choose the topics and allow them to ask you questions that they may not feel comfortable voicing in front of their classmates.

4. As a class, plan a humanitarian project. Dedicate a specific amount of time every week for collaborative work. Require each student to contribute his or her own research and ideas. Whether the goal is to conduct a canned-food drive, schedule a volunteer event, or plan a community wellness day, ensure everyone has an opportunity to be key player in the process.

Want to add your tips to the mix? We invite you to share (by commenting below) how, when, and where in the 4,860,000 seconds each year you make time to foster and empower positive relationships with your students.

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