Most of us can remember at least one teacher who changed our lives for the better, guiding us on the path to our true passion or maybe just making us feel heard at a hard time. Chances are that this life-changing teacher wasn’t a stern disciplinarian and instead showed us kindness and trust. This makes a teacher memorable, but it also is what makes them a good teacher.
Past research has shown that students’ overall performance improves with a good relationship with their teachers. A recent study has gone further to emphasize “soft skills” as tools in a teacher’s repertoire. These include kindness, compassion, and empathy, and they are critical to effectively teaching children.
The days of strict professors in black robes demanding rote memorization are gone, but now it’s encouraged that teachers go as far as to bond with their students to better teach them.
Teachers that bond have other important skills
A study from Missouri University College of Education and Human Development examined survey data from 280 school districts across Missouri that asked students in grades four through 10 to rate their teachers’ abilities high-impact teaching methods: sparking cognitive engagement, critical thinking and problem solving, helping students follow along from one topic to the next and making curriculum interesting and relevant. They were also asked if they felt that their teacher cared about them, made themselves available, and made learning enjoyable.
The survey found that teachers who were good at developing relationships with their students were also effective at these high-impact teaching methods. These methods are often easier to perform when there is a rapport with the student.
“One reason for that is students tend to be more motivated to learn and be engaged in the classroom when their teacher likes and cares about them. Positive teacher-student relationships change student behavior, and in this study, we found building those positive relationships actually leads to better teaching, too. It changes teacher behavior,” said Christ Bergin, professor at Missouri University and author of the study.
When considering your own or your child’s teachers and their ability to effectively teach, you might want to consider their kindness and their ability to be a friend, as this is often an important part of how they help children learn.