One of the cornerstones of any effective classroom management plan is the rapport the teacher has with their students. Michael Linsin, author of the blog Smart Classroom Management, states “Rapport is nothing more than a connection you make with your students based on their positive feelings for you.” Successful teachers know that creating a positive relationship with their music students can lead to an elevated classroom culture of high student engagement, motivation, and trust. These key factors will ultimately lead to a rehearsal environment of fantastic learning and music-making.
Here are 6 six actions you can do to develop a positive rapport with your students.
- Smile and show the students you love what you do. If they see the enjoyment and passion you have, your class will be a place they want to be. Your enthusiasm will be contagious.
- Get to know your students. I don’t mean how well they play or sing or how much musical knowledge they have. All that stuff is important, but take a little time as students are entering the room or putting their instruments together to check-in with them and see how their day is going. Ask about activities they in or what sports they play. All you need is a few minutes each day to make this happen. At the end of the rehearsal, don’t be the first one to head out of the room. Stick around the last few minutes to chat with a few more students as they are packing up and getting ready to leave.
- Bring a positive attitude to the classroom and the podium every day. Even if your day is not going as planned, leave the negativity at your desk.
- Set high expectations. Kids don’t want to feel like their time is wasted. By setting high expectations, you are setting the tone for learning and music-making. Help them set goals and help them reach their goals.
- Reinforce that we work together as an ensemble. Playing together requires teamwork and your students need to buy-in to this idea for the group to be successful. Set the expectation and discuss it often with your kids. In rehearsal, recognize the students or sections that have do something positive and you will start to build momentum for others to improve. Kids want to be praised and noticed for their contributions.
- Finally, show students you care. Your actions will speak louder than your words. Barbara Harrell Carson reminds us, “Students learn what they care about, from people they care about and who, they know, care about them . . .” Your decisions and actions should always be about what is best for kids.
Building a positive rapport with your students is one of the most importants actions you should focus on at the beginning of the year. The most successful teachers are able to maintain positive relationships with their students. It’s not easy, but the benefits are huge and the sky's the limit.