5 Tips for Connecting with a Student

Sarah Breeden, MT, 12 year classroom teacher

We’ve all had students who we struggle connecting with. Whether due to previous trauma, difficulty in academics, or disinterest in school, some kids have a harder time connecting with adults they need to trust. Here are five simple ways you can get started connecting with a student you want to be closer to. A better relationship can mean less conflict and improved behavior in all areas of school.


      1. 2 X 10- the 2 X 10 technique is where you devote 2 minutes for 10 days in a row getting to know your student. Ask them questions about things they enjoy, what they do for fun or even let them direct the conversation. This technique gets them to open up while also being easy to manage time wise. After 10 days, reassess your connection with the child. You may notice they seem more at ease or even initiate more interaction with you!

      1. Give them a job- if you have classroom jobs or tasks that are easy for students to do (think paper passer, technology ambassador or errand runner). Kids love to be helpful and it builds trust. For even more buy-in, ask them what they might be good at that they can do to help you!

      1. Post-it moment- leave a post-it on their desk with a small compliment- even if it’s something that isn’t a huge celebration. I have found notes like, “I really enjoy being around you!” or “Thanks for always being ready to learn.” can go a long way. If you try and do this a few times over a period of 2-3 weeks, you may notice the student having more confidence and feeling more secure around you.

      1. Have them teach you- kids LOVE to teach adults new things. Ways to play a game, doing a TikTok dance or even how to use new slang can go a long way to connecting with a kid. Ask them if they have anything they could teach you, and really try to learn it. Be silly and have fun! Often, struggling kids see adults as enforcers not supporters in learning environments. Don’t be afraid to open up too, it could make all the difference.

      1. Be vulnerable- adults very rarely show kids they are human too. Model forgiveness, apologizing, recognizing and making mistakes and being honest. Value this in them when they do it too. When you make a mistake, verbalize it to the whole class, not just your student. If you forget to do something you said you would, a simple statement like, “Hey class, I forgot to finish ______ that I told you I would, and I’m sorry. I hope you accept my apology. My goal will be to get it done by _____.” And then follow through. Honesty and vulnerability show children that you are human, trustworthy and able to forgive them too when they make a mistake.

    See what works for you when trying to connect with a student or your class as a whole. There’s no one way to build a relationship. But success comes from the effort, and the effort starts with you!


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