Improving Teacher Student Relationships

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male-teacher-and-student.jpgStudents spend many years in school. As they say, these are the formative years. Social psychologists feel the relationship between teacher and student can impact the development on the individual (Schneider, Gruman, & Coutts 2012. p.203). Since the students are with the teachers 5 days a week, they become part of the students life.

            Students spend 30 hours at least per week in school. In reality it is like going to a job. Technically the teacher is like a work site manager. In order to start the school off, teachers need to develop into effective managers. When being an effective manager in the classroom, research has shown when a teacher uses commonsense plans, it can lead to the prevention of discipline problems between teacher and student (Slavin 2003. pp.378-379).

            According to Edgar Arold, one of the most important relationships that exist today is the teacher/student relationship or interaction. It is important for the teacher not to come to the level of the student (Arold, 2010 p.1). Following this further, it is important to avoid Social categorization, a so-called opposing position between teacher and student. Both parties need to be cooperative in a team like matter to help their educational goals to be successful (Schneider, Gruman, & Coutts. 2012 p. 378).

            Teacher's perceptions of the students can have a negative effect on them if they focus on inadequacies rather than potentials. Teachers who question student potentials can discourage academic performance (Ornstein, Levine 2006. p.337). Keeping the relationship between student and teacher will take effort on both sides. School needs to be a place for youth to go and feel safe and low stress especially when they are subject to external stress in their outside world. Cooperation on both sides, good communication skills and just plain old feeling appreciated on both sides are the keys needed.    




Arold, E. (2010). Improving the teacher-student relationship in school. Retrieved from http://


Ornstein, A.C., & Levine, D.U., (2006). Foundations of Education. Boston, NY: Houghton

      Mifflin Company.

Schneider, F.W., Gruman, J.A., & Coutts, L.M. (2012). Applied Social Psychology:

     Understanding and Addressing Social and Practical Problems. Thousand Oaks, CA:

     Sage Publications.

Slavin, R.E. (2003). Educational Psychology Theory and Practice. John Hopkins University.



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I could not agree more, however our local and city governments may not share our opinion of how important the relationship between teachers and students actually are. Today’s financial shortcomings that are the result of the 2007 recession are affecting our budgets in such a way many school systems are suffering (Huffington post, 2012). Take for instance a headline I read this morning, it stated “Chicago to close 61 schools to trim $1B deficit” (USA Today, 2013). I read further into the article and learned the city of Chicago has experienced such debt it has a one billion dollar debt gap that must be closed. To close this gap, 61 schools will be closed in the upcoming academic year. Even more disturbing is of the 61 schools that are to be closed 53 are elementary schools. The article further states; there will be significant staff reductions at many other area schools. This will force teachers to take on much larger classrooms and because there will be even less personal time to devote towards students with specific questions there will be further strain teacher student relationships. As a society that has prided itself upon the availability of education and higher education we must look closer at these cuts and find other avenues to fill the gaps. The future of our society depends upon the children of today.


The Huffington Post, September 5, 2012, Education Section. Retrieved 3-23-2013.

Riley, J. (2013) USA Today, March 21, 2013, Chicago to close 61 schools to trim $1B deficit. Retrieved 3-23-2013.

I find it disheartening that teachers may focus on student inadequacies rather than make efforts to improve the educational outcomes of their students. There is a tendency to place attention on high achieving students and provide limited assistance to low achieving students. According to Schneider, Gruman, and Coutts (2012) the expectations that teachers have, negative and/or positive, can predict achievements for struggling students (low achievers), but not for high achievers and this may be the result of low achievers being susceptible to what teachers think of them (205). This effect must be especially powerful for minority students who face stereotype threat – the expectations consistent with stereotypes about their group. Stereotype threat has been shown to reduce student motivation, self-concept, and academic performance which lead teachers to engage in self-fulfilling prophecies in regard to student achievement (Schneider, Gruman, & Coutts, 2012, p. 205). In a perfect world students would be matched based on classroom size and teaching styles that promote self-concept and increased learning. Student-teacher relationships are crucial to the success of many students. When bonds are formed between students and their teachers, positive educational experiences occur and ultimately this may increase student engagement and decrease drop-out rates (Schneider, Gruman, & Coutts, 2012, p. 205).


Schneider, F.W., Gruman, J.A., & Coutts, L.M. (2012). Applied social psychology: Understanding and addressing social and practical problems (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc.

Great blog! I agree that teachers should for a relationship with the students because they are with their teacher more than they are with their parents. If the student and the teacher have a good relationship the student will feel comfortable with openly communicating with their teacher. Once a relationship is developed that child is more than likely to remember that teacher for a lifetime. I know for me personally I had a teacher in the seventh grade which was 11 years ago for me that I still remember. Her name was Ms.Lynch she developed a relationship with me, I felt very comfortable with her and was able to talk to her and never felt scared. I feel that when a teacher has a relationship with a student that will impact that student in so many positive ways.

Teacher and student relationships are different today than they were when I was growing up in the late 70's and early 80's. When I was in school the students respected the teachers and the staff of the school. There was still corporal punishment (paddling) until between my eighth and ninth grade years and usually if you were paddled at school, you got another round when you got home. Parents supported teachers and were appreciative of the lengths that these teachers went to help their children.

Today we seem to have gotten away from the close teach/student relationships. The fear of a lawsuit always hangs over the staff at a school and it seems the parents are more concerned about the possibility of their child being punished by someone than they are about why the child may have been punished in the first place. This may be due to the self-serving bias. The parents want to take all the credit for the good their children do but if the child is having problems or getting into trouble then it must be someone else’s fault

We need to get back to a time where we all want everyone child to prosper both educationally and socially. We need to get back to respecting each other and taking accountability for our own actions. When this happens maybe we will see those good old student/teacher relationships return to our schools.

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