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Teacher And Student Relationship (Essay Sample)

Teacher and student relationship.

Teachers hold the highest regard for students; ideally, students are encouraged to respect their teachers and emulate them. Teachers play important roles in molding student’s personality and the type of relationship teacher develop with students will determine the student’s academic and personal growth in the future. Developing a positive teacher-student relationship means creating an encouraging learning environment where students are free to interact with both teachers and their peers.  Effective communication alone does not offer effective building blocks to a strong teacher-student relationship; the learning environment plays a key role nurturing student’s abilities.

One of the most challenging aspects of nurturing a good teacher-student relationship is the different personality traits of students. Some students are hardworking but are introverts, while other students are naturally aggressive, hence distracting others affecting the learning environment. Students have varied abilities; other students might not fit in a highly competitive learning environment. Teachers need to address such challenges by not only being extremely patient. Teachers need to be lenient at the same time be strict, any excess of any of the two might hinder students from learning effectively.

The effective teacher-student relationship evolves and needs time, teacher act as mothers for students during their early years in school.  They guide them and encourage them to be positive about life. As students progress to secondary level, teachers focus more on academic achievement forgetting about the life values.  Concentrating on academic achievements alone and not instilling moral values might affect student personality. There is the need for teachers to make adjusted in their teaching approaches to accommodate student varied need. Students come from mixed cultural and social backgrounds; therefore, teachers need incorporate the different values to make students feel part of the learning process.

Giving individualized student attention means allocating appropriate time to address different needs of students. Having a better understanding of students means understanding their values, their weak areas, and challenges and addressing them individually. Being able to develop a level of understanding with every student, they will feel valued, and this would boost their self-esteem. All these positive behavior will be reflected in their grades and their general behavior.

Teachers need to make students feel accepted by being warm and nurturing, and teachers need to be aware of student’s thoughts and feelings and make them feel important.  All these require being present within them throughout the day. The size of the class and the number of students in a class is vital in enhancing good student’s teacher relationship. A larger class would mean spending more time with many students that can be difficult .Teachers need to provide individualized attention to each student; therefore, a small class would be a better environment for both teachers and students.

Building a positive relationship with students makes students positive about school in general. Students become free to make mistakes and seek help whenever necessary. It is not surprising that research studies reveal that constructive teacher student relationship has positively affected student academic performance. The natures of relationship teachers have with their students have largely affected student’s socioeconomic status and their professional development.  Teacher’s relationship with students matters more. Any teacher who wants to make a real and lasting difference among his students need to put more effort in building high-performance students through effective interaction and creating a conducive learning environment for all his students.

teacher student relationship essay

Teacher-Student Relationships Matter

  • Posted March 17, 2021
  • By Gianna Cacciatore
  • Counseling and Mental Health
  • Disruption and Crises
  • Teachers and Teaching

Teacher smiling at student

Effective teachers form authentic, caring relationships with their students. In the best of times, forming these relationships can be a challenge; in a post-pandemic world, where many teachers are engaging with students remotely, building relationships can feel impossible. Fortunately, says trained counselor and educator Megan Marcus , educators can learn the skills necessary to build strong relationships, both in person and online.

Marcus is the founder of FuelEd , a Houston-based nonprofit committed to teaching these skills to educators around the country. By providing teachers with access to one-on-one counseling, group workshops, and educator training, FuelEd hopes to close what it perceives to be a gap in educator preparation: the space between what an educator is expected to do — build strong, secure relationships with students, families, and coworkers — and the level of social and emotional support educators actually receive. Inspired by Marcus’ background in human psychology, Fuel Ed leads with the belief that teachers cannot effectively care for their students unless they care for themselves first.   

“Just one relationship with a caregiver throughout a lifespan can actually change the brain’s development, heal trauma, and promote learning. Educators have the potential to utilize this power. Many do organically, through naturally forming secure relationships. But we could do so much more if educators were equipped with the skills and self-awareness to systematically do this work,” explains Marcus.

Here, Marcus offers four steps educators can take to promote emotional intelligence and build relationship-driven schools, both in-person and online.

1. Learn the science behind strong relationships.

Research shows that the way a person relates to caregivers early in life can impact that person’s relationships later on. For example, explains Marcus, “if you had insecure relationships in your childhood, you’re more likely to build relationships with others that aren’t secure.” The good news? Once identified, a person’s relationship patterns can change. That means educators can learn the skills behind secure relationship-building — and they can teach them. This gives educators the opportunity to, within their daily interactions, strengthen the ways their students relate to others throughout life.

2. Embrace the power of empathic listening.

Empathic listening means listening to what a student has to say — a student’s “strong emotions and painful experiences,” says Marcus — and not responding. No reassuring, no offering advice. Just listening. While deceptively simple, this type of listening can help a student build self-regulation skills. That’s because it kicks off a powerful interpersonal cycle. “Someone comes to you, they share their feelings, and instead of jumping in to problem solve, you listen. That’s very trust-building. Now, not only is this person calmer and better able to solve their own problems, but they want to come back to you again, share more. And the more you can learn about them and their needs, the more you, as the administrator and the teacher, can be respond to their needs,” explains Marcus.

“Just one relationship with a caregiver throughout a lifespan can actually change the brain’s development, heal trauma, and promote learning. ... We could do so much more if educators were equipped with the skills and self-awareness to systematically do this work.”

Empathic listening, she adds, can also help school leaders build stronger, more positive relationships with staff.

To make space for empathic listening, educators can prioritize opportunities for one-on-one connections in scheduled check-ins or drop-in office hours. Since this type of listening can take place in person, on Zoom, or over the phone, this is a skill that all educators, no matter their learning modality, can use to form more secure relationships.

3. Practice genuine vulnerability.

Often, educators feel restrained by the need to exert authority in a space, so they refrain from sharing their genuine frustrations or emotions. This hinders the development of secure attachments, says Marcus, and limits the social-emotional culture of a school. Instead, she suggests, educators should share their experiences directly. Once one person shows vulnerability, another person will open up. Only then can secure relationships blossom.

This practice fuels student-teacher relationships, but it is also key to creating an over-arching culture of safety in a school. “The more that principals can model empathy and self-awareness, the more they can share their journey with teachers and be vulnerable, the more it’s going to encourage educators to engage in the work,” says Marcus.

If you are educating in person, you can practice sharing personal details in informal exchanges with both students and colleagues. If you are educating online, Marcus says, you can use virtual opportunities, like introductory videos, pet cameos, or Zoom dance parties, to introduce your personality to your school community.   

4. Provide educators with opportunities to do their own healing.

Teaching is, at its core, interpersonal work. It requires high levels of emotional intelligence. When educators approach the work unprepared for its social-emotional load, says Marcus, relationships suffer. Her advice? Give educators access to spaces and resources where they can do their own introspection and healing. When teachers are invited to engage in the therapeutic process of unpacking their personal stories and triggers, it can lead to social-emotional growth. The more that educators are able to improve their own social-emotional intelligence, the more students will be able to learn and feel safe.

Additional Resources:

  • FuelEd's professional development workshops for educators.
  • From Making Caring Common: How to Build Empathy and Strengthen your School Community
  • Teaching Social and Emotional Skills All Day
  • Safeguarding the Mental Health of Teachers
  • Trauma Informed video series

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Why Teacher-Student Relationships Matter

teacher student relationship essay

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Students spend more than 1,000 hours with their teacher in a typical school year. That’s enough time to build a relationship that could ignite a student’s lifetime love of learning—and it’s enough time for the dynamic to go totally off the rails.

Education watchers have long known that the relationship with a teacher can be critically important to how well students learn. But emerging research is giving a clearer picture than ever of how teachers can build and leverage strong relationships with their students.

“People sometimes mistake a kind of casual familiarity and friendliness for the promotion of really deep relationships that are about a child’s potential, their interests, their strengths, and weaknesses,” said Mary Helen Immordino-Yang, a cognitive neuroscientist at the University of Southern California who studies the effects of emotions and mindsets on learning.

“A lot of teachers ... have really strong abilities to engage socially with the students, but then it’s not enough,” she said. “You have to go much deeper than that and actually start to engage with students around their curiosity, their interests, their habits of mind through understanding and approaching material to really be an effective teacher.”

In a forthcoming longitudinal study with Bank Street College of Education, Immordino-Yang is tracking how the highly effective teachers of low-income students set classroom norms and feelings of trust and safety for students—but also leverage that foundation to promote students’ deeper thinking and engagement.

Why are teacher-student relationships important?

“The relational part of teaching may very well be its most underrated aspect. ... When teachers are good at building relationships with students, the skill is seen more as cover for a lack of content knowledge or wherewithal to instruct with rigor,” James Ford, the 2015 North Carolina State Teacher of the Year and the program director for the Public School Forum of North Carolina, told Education Week . To the contrary, he added, “Our first job as teachers is to make sure that we learn our students, that we connect with them on a real level, showing respect for their culture and affirming their worthiness to receive the best education possible.”

A Review of Educational Research analysis of 46 studies found that strong teacher-student relationships were associated in both the short- and long-term with improvements on practically every measure schools care about: higher student academic engagement, attendance, grades, fewer disruptive behaviors and suspensions, and lower school dropout rates. Those effects were strong even after controlling for differences in students’ individual, family, and school backgrounds.

Teachers benefit, too. A study in the European Journal of Psychology of Education found that a teacher’s relationship with students was the best predictor of how much the teacher experienced joy versus anxiety in class.

How does a teacher’s approach affect that relationship?

In a 2018 study, Arizona State University researcher Victoria Theisen-Homer found different teacher-training programs prioritized different kinds of relationships with students:

  • An instrumental focus involved a limited, one-way relationship in which teachers cull bits of information about students specifically to motivate them to behave well and focus on teacher-directed tasks. The relationships “were structured as a controlled means to a particular end: student compliance,” she found. “Students learned that their value was tied to the degree to which they worked hard and behaved in line with what mostly white authority figures demanded.”
  • A reciprocal focus required teachers to gather complex information and develop a holistic understanding of their students, inviting the students to grapple with content and problems together. “These students not only learned to think for themselves, but also had adults who affirmed and responded to their thoughts and experiences. Such interactions prepared them to engage with authority figures, and to someday hold positions of authority themselves,” Theisen-Homer said.

The study also found in an analysis of two of these programs that teachers trained in the instrumental focus were more likely to go on to teach in low-income, high-minority schools, while those trained in reciprocal relationships ended up in schools with more high-income and white students. It was not clear why teachers ended up sorting in this way, but it raised concerns about differences in the kinds of relationships high- and low-income students might experience with teachers.

“Sometimes teachers don’t understand the importance that their relationship with each student has on that student’s identity and sense of belonging,” said Vicki Nishioka, a senior researcher with Education Northwest who studies teacher-student relationships. “What gets in the way of that is a more authoritarian kind of discipline and interaction approach with students, which really doesn’t work.”

For example, a 2016 study randomly assigned teachers to increase their positive interactions with students. Students of teachers who boosted their ratio to five positive comments and interactions for every negative one had significantly less disruptive behavior and more time on task academically than the students of a control group of teachers.

How can teachers improve their relationships with students?

In a word: Empathy. Across several recent studies, researchers have found that teachers who cultivate empathy for and with their students are able to manage students’ behavior and academic engagement better.

Nishioka finds that trying to suppress biases or stereotypes about students can sometimes make them worse, but practicing perspective-taking—actively imagining how a student might perceive or be affected by a situation—can reduce bias and deepen teacher-student relationships. She recommended teachers:

  • Talk to students to understand differences in their perceptions and expectations in class.
  • Research cultural differences between teachers and students to head off cultural misunderstandings, particularly around norms, styles, and language.
  • Teach and model perspective-taking for students in class.

How can teachers maintain healthy boundaries with students?

Experts caution that for teachers and students, “relationship” does not equal “friend,” particularly on social media. Many districts have rules against teachers following or friending current students on Facebook, Twitter, or other platforms, in part because it might open teachers to liability if they see inappropriate behavior from students online.

Teachers also should be upfront with students who confide in them that they are required by law to report evidence of abuse and can’t keep secrets that could put students in danger.

Teacher and education author Starr Sackstein, whose blog is hosted on the edweek.org website, also recommends that while teachers can and should share personal stories if they are “purposeful and appropriate” to the discussion, they should use these to model for students what level of detail is appropriate for sharing in social conversations.

How can relationships with students support teacher quality?

While student feedback is often incorporated into teacher evaluations in higher education, it is rarely a direct part of K-12 teacher evaluations. But that doesn’t mean districts can’t use student feedback to improve teaching practice, and in particular, such feedback can be used to help teachers build deeper relationships with students.

For example, the High Tech High Media Arts charter school in San Diego trains students using a six-week course to act as observers. The students met regularly with the teacher to give feedback about their communication skills and engagement in the classroom, and to brainstorm better ways to reach out to students. Teachers and administrators found that going through the training gave students better understanding of the teachers’ roles. School staff members said that teachers also “developed deeper relationships with students, interacted with students in a more positive way during class, communicated information about projects and assignments to students more clearly, generated better questions to stimulate student dialogue during Socratic seminars, and created more collaborative learning environments for students.”

A version of this article appeared in the March 13, 2019 edition of Education Week as Why Teacher-Student Relationships Matter

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Positive Teacher-Student Relationships

What are they.

Everyone can point to a teacher who made a difference in his or her life, and also to one who made life miserable for a short time. Why? Because the teacher-student relationship is at the heart of teaching. As Rita Pierson noted in her famous TED talk, “Kids aren’t going to learn from someone they don’t like.”

But what is a positive teacher-student relationship? Here are some examples based on research that asks both teachers and students what makes this relationship so special:

For Teachers: According to educators, a positive relationship with a student is close and supportive, but not overly dependent. A teacher who cares about his or her students believes that every child can learn, but differently and at different rates, sets high expectations, is warm and trusting, and strives to keep the relationship conflict-free. He or she also uses humor and admits mistakes, sets clear boundaries, and is open, honest, and approachable.

For Students: Students told researchers that good teachers listen to and take a personal interest in students’ lives. They show respect, value the individuality of each student, and are kind and polite. A caring teacher gives honest, but kind feedback, and offers second chances. They help students with schoolwork, manage the classroom well, and, perhaps most importantly, they plan fun activities.

For Higher Education: At the college level, students prefer professors who are approachable—they say “hi” on campus, smile often, and stay after class to talk to students. They also set high expectations, are fair, honest, trustworthy, respectful, open, supportive, and encouraging.

Why Cultivate Them?

Decades of research clearly show that positive teacher-student relationships are extremely important for student outcomes in all categories—feelings, attitudes, behavior, and achievement—and at all ages.

Students do better overall with caring teachers.

  • Studies have found that for students from pre-K to 12, positive student-teacher relationships increase engagement , motivation , prosocial —kind and helpful—behavior, and academic achievement .

Seeing students as individuals is key to their well-being and success.

  • When teachers use practices that are sensitive to students’ individual differences and needs and that also include student voice, their students tend to be more motivated and show higher academic achievement ; they also feel better about school, participate more, and show less disruptive behavior across grade levels.

Negative student-teacher relationships can have long-lasting impact.

  • Conflict-ridden relationships with teachers in kindergarten predict worse grades, work habits, and discipline problems into late elementary or even middle school.

Relationships matter at every age.

  • In preschool and kindergarten : When their relationships with teachers are more emotionally supportive and less conflictual, preschool students become more socially and academically competent; similar effects occur for kindergarteners.
  • In elementary and middle school , close, positive student-teacher relationships are associated with greater student engagement in learning and better social and behavioral outcomes in general, including less risky behavior .
  • In high school , students who connect with their teachers are less likely to engage in risky behavior , including substance abuse, sexual activity, and suicide.
  • In university , students are less likely to drop out , and they show more commitment, engagement, effort, intellectual development, and academic achievement.

Teachers, too, benefit from good relationships with their students.

  • They experience the joy of teaching, helping to maintain their commitment to the profession by preventing burnout .

Practice Collections


2 x 10: Getting to Know A Student

Students learn how to comfort themselves during stressful times.

A Moment for Me: A Self-Compassion Break for Teens

Use the Circle process to encourage students to safely and respectfully share their level of understanding on an academic topic.

Check for Understanding Circle

Teachers examine 13 specific beliefs about ethnically diverse students, reflect on those beliefs and outline action steps for better serving their students.

Common Beliefs Survey: Teaching Racially and Ethnically Diverse Students

Students will provide input on changes that could be made to the classroom to subtly cue kind behavior.

Designing the Classroom to Promote Kindness 

Teachers and students converse with each other through letter writing.

Dialogue Journals for Elementary Students

Teachers and students converse with each other through writing.

Dialogue Journals for High School Students

Teachers and students converse with each other through writing.

Dialogue Journals for Middle School Students

Teachers reflect on and discuss the various dimensions and impact of their identities on their relationships with students and their families.

Dimensions of Difference and Similarity Reflection

Students collaborate on the development of classroom norms

Family Business

A simple way to build students’ academic mindset, trust, and positive identity.

Giving Wise Feedback

Strategies to encourage and help students practice honesty

Honesty Commitment for Students

Members of the classroom or meeting stand and respectfully acknowledge each person in the group.

I See You. Everyone Matters.

Mentally cultivate kindness toward yourself and consider how you might be of service to others

Imagining Flourishing and Kindness: A Mindfulness Practice for Adults

teacher student relationship essay

Kindness Art for Students

Teens talking and listening with compassion at school.

Listening with Compassion

Portrait of a cute teenage boy hiker on a rainy autumn day. The boy is smiling and looking up.

Look Up Vibe (LUV Moment)

Students walk silently around school, noticing people they are grateful for and telling them so.

Looking for Gratitude in School

Mentally cultivate kindness toward yourself and others.

Loving-Kindness for Adults

Students mentally send good wishes to someone who is important to them.

Loving-Kindness for Someone You Care About

Teachers engage in a mindful reflection process that creates space for checking their assumptions about student behavior.

Mindful Reflection Process for Developing Culturally Responsive Practices

A short practice for mindfully exploring your emotional experience when you help a student

Mindfully Creating Positive Relationships with Students

Staff members brainstorm how they will intentionally model SEL in their interactions with students.

Modeling SEL for Students

A very young child holding a guitar

Music to Inspire Kindness

School staff discuss what opens and closes their hearts in the classroom using Focused Listening and Speaking with each other.

Overcoming Obstacles to an Open Heart

Help students plan enjoyable activities as a form of self-care

Pleasant Events Calendar for Students

Observe how time and contemplation can influence your ability to gain important insights about your work.

Quotes and Sayings: A Contemplative Practice

Lead a brief choral reading practice that fosters community and connection.

Reading Ourselves Whole: A Contemplative Choral Reading Method

Students discuss the SEL skills touched upon during the activity in which they have just participated.

Reflecting on SEL Skills

Smiling teacher teaching young children

Say “We” to Nurture Collaboration in Students

Students explore real-world examples to help them identify peaceful ways to respond to discrimination.

Standing Up Against Discrimination

Discussion prompts that guide teachers to reflect and collaborate on effective SEL implementation.

Supporting SEL at Grade-Level or Content Area Team Meetings

Staff members explore the connection between healthy boundaries and an open heart in order to maintain caring relationships.

Sustaining an Open Heart

Students learn how to think gratefully.

Thank You for Believing in Me

A tool for fostering a supportive and equitable classroom and school environment and for promoting SEL.

The SEL 3 Signature Practices

Teachers unearth stereotypes and examine privilege while reflecting on the impact of systemic discrimination.

Understanding Justice

Students identify others' assumptions about them and then describe who they really are on the inside.

Understanding Prejudice Through Paper Plate Portraits

Students examine how they face everyday moral dilemmas and consider who and what influences their reactions when conflicts arise.

Where We Stand

Enroll in one of our online courses

GGIE Online Courses for Educators

Do you want to dive deeper into the science behind our GGIE practices? Enroll in one of our online courses for educators!

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Handbook of Research on Student Engagement pp 431–449 Cite as

Teacher–Student Relationships, Engagement in School, and Student Outcomes

  • Tara L. Hofkens 3 &
  • Robert C. Pianta 3  
  • First Online: 20 October 2022

2035 Accesses

2 Citations

Classrooms are complex relational settings, and student engagement in these settings reflects relationally mediated participation in opportunities that are structured through interactions with teachers. Specifically, we posit that relationships with teachers either produce or inhibit student engagement to the extent that interactions meaningfully challenge students in a context of consistent and effective relational and instructional supports. In this chapter, we describe the Teaching Through Interactions (TTI) framework for understanding, studying, and ultimately improving engagement. Importantly, our work reflects the view that engagement is not a characteristic of a student; rather, engagement emerges in the context of interactions with their teacher, which are fundamental to the classroom setting as a developmental context for children and adolescence. Engagement, in this view, is both a mediator of impacts and an outcome in its own right that our work shows can be improved by leveraging the capacity of relationships and interactions to nurture the quality and durability of students’ involvement in classroom learning. We conclude with suggestions for future research and education policy.

  • Teacher–student relationships
  • Teacher–student interactions
  • Student engagement

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Please see the Teachstone website for more information about the CLASS measures and coaching ( https://teachstone.com/ ). Note that co-author Pianta has a financial interest in Teachstone as the distributor of CLASS-related observation and professional development materials.

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University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN, USA

Sandra L. Christenson

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Hofkens, T.L., Pianta, R.C. (2022). Teacher–Student Relationships, Engagement in School, and Student Outcomes. In: Reschly, A.L., Christenson, S.L. (eds) Handbook of Research on Student Engagement. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-031-07853-8_20

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DOI : https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-031-07853-8_20

Published : 20 October 2022

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Online ISBN : 978-3-031-07853-8

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Home / Essay Samples / Sociology / Interpersonal Relationship / Teacher-Student Relationships

Teacher-student Relationships Essay Examples

The importance of establishing a positive relationship between teacher and student.

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