The power of student-teacher relationships

A month in to the new School year and the early relationship and connection a student has with their teacher is starting to take shape. In some cases, the immediate impact a new teacher has made on their students is already clear to parents and carers. In conversation with parents and carers, positive first impressions typically reference high expectations, a caring and nurturing environment, high energy or a strong command of curriculum. In other cases, parents comment that their child is still trying to ‘work the teacher out’. In our experience at Northholm this is a positive perspective. Teacher-Student relationships can take time to develop. Quite often a demanding approach to excellence can be initially met with some apprehension. However, we know that great learning should be uncomfortable and challenge is critical to scholarship.

The greater the connectedness on personal and emotional levels between the teacher and student in the academic context, the greater the scope for academic motivation, engagement and achievement. Teachers don’t just teach disciplines (Mathematics, Science, English, etc), they teach people. Education is about connectedness, belonging and being relational. From a learning perspective, a strong sense of relatedness and connectedness better positions students to take on challenges, set positive goals and establish high expectations that extend and motivate them.

At Northholm, the building of positive student-teacher relationships is underpinned by a classroom and School-wide commitment to connective instruction. Our best teachers are more likely to facilitate motivation and engage high achieving students if they frame their practice in relational terms. At Northholm, we want our students to feel connected to ensure optimal motivation, engagement and achievement. This, in my opininon, is the what quality teaching looks like.

By Chris Bradbury, Principal of Northholm Grammar School.