Problem: I feel like I’m not building very strong rapport with some students, especially those that struggle with behavior.

Solution:   Problem behavior can have many causes and potential remedies.  One idea certainly won’t be a quick fix for every kid but this is something I’ve found helpful:  I had a big “ah-ha” moment in a training once when the trainer (Susan Mulkey) said that you have to think of your relationship with each student like a bank.  You deposit money into the bank account when you praise the student.  Praise that is more specific (ex: “That was so nice of you to hold the door for your classmates”) tends to work better than general praise (ex: “Good job!”).  When you have to correct the student, it withdraws some of that built up “rapport currency.”  If you are constantly correcting a student without also finding things to praise, you withdraw too much and eventually your relationship goes “into the negative.”

Students with challenging behaviors may not earn praise in standard ways such as walking quietly in line, raising their hands, or sticking to a difficult task, but it’s important to find an area they can be praised in (ex: “I love how you make it to school on time every day,” “you’re sure great at tether ball!” “It was nice of you to sit with the new student at lunch.”)

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Hannah Braun
Hannah Braun
Hannah Braun is a former teacher with 8 years of experience in the classroom and a master's degree in early childhood education. She designs engaging, organized classroom resources for 1st-3rd grade teachers.