The Ingredients of Meaningful Student-Teacher Relationship

High quality educational technology and pedagogy will be meaningless without effective relationship among teachers, students, and learning itself. The key of significant learning lies on significant relationship. Therefore, how do we build significant relationship with the students?

Just like making a healthy dish require healthy ingredient, you need these three important healthy ingredients to ‘serve’ healthy relationship that will impact to healthy learning experience!

First, the way we interact should be personal. Effective relationship starts when you build interaction with students one on one. The way we interact with the students need to be personal and specific according to each person’s unique needs. Knowing students’ name, characteristics, feeling, mood is one thing you can learn everyday. When you treat students as a human being, we could not just see them as blank slate or empty box that just need knowledge or information. Building interaction with the students should consider students as holistic being who has feeling, emotion, perspectives.

Then, good interaction begins when you engage the students in learning. When we know each student personally, we can engage the students to express the connection between the learning experiences and students needs. Students engagement are built since the point when you listen to the students, when you involve them to think and make decision for their own learning. From that point, we could easily identify how we deliver best learning experiences to all the students.

Second, the content of interaction should be meaningful and relevant. The content should be built from both of teachers and students. High quality interaction must involve questioning, discussing, responding and even debating about things we want to discuss. This is how I design my Geography class. In each lesson, the interaction is established throughout students’ voice about what matters for them. Sometimes, it goes beyond from textbook. But that’s totally fine as long as students get the opportunity to think, listen, ask, and debate that issues. Technology could be one of the best alternatives for students to express their voice. Let them express their voice using multiple activities and forms of media!

I always enjoy the time where students share their personal experiences about that issues which means they have successfully internalize what they have learned in class to their life. I realize that learning should not only come from teacher’s explanation but also students’ explanation. It happens when students are given the chance to express their critical and creative thinking about what we have discussed in class.  It allows broad and dynamic discussion among teachers and students.

Third, the environment in which we interact should safe, supportive, and sound. Safe means students feel comfort when they want to express what they have learned. Supportive means students are encouraged to build meaningful interaction with the other students, teachers, and learning topics. Sound means students know clear expectation and boundaries how they interact with others properly.

To build those kinds of environment, I might let my students know that they are safe, supportive, and sound to build interaction since the first day of school. What I might do is I will give simple model or example how we want to create that kind of environment everyday. I could model that by sharing about my personal experiences to the students which inspire them to be open.

I could also let the students share their personal perspectives about specific issues/questions and encourage them to explore deeper. Giving authentic praise and comments to students’ responses is totally crucial to build students trust to you.

It means you support them to interact with the class. We can state our expectation and boundaries clearly before and after we build the interaction in class. When you build healthy interaction, you need to guide the interaction into meaningful and relevant interaction that keep us learning on the right track.


Finally,  the three factors were identified as being important for relationships in the classroom; the way in which we interact (one on one), the content of the interactions (open or broad) and the environment in which we interact (safe, supportive and sound). Those three factors are crucial to establish relationships in your classroom that will lead to productive learning for students. Learning does not come from the book, video, or media. It comes from the heart. It is really crucial to put love above everything because meaningful interaction has love that translate our passion for teaching into their passion for learning.

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3 Responses

  1. Nice post. The psychological aspects of learning and teaching are tremendously important. Oscar Wilde said, “some people bring happiness and laughter into whatever room they enter. Others remove it.”
    When students are happy, treated kindly and entertained, they learn more.
    The book, “Straight A at Stanford and on to Harvard. How to learn faster and think better.” by Peter Rogers MD, goes into detail on how to optimize academic performance.
    It summarizes the learning methods of top students at Stanford and in medical school.
    It talks about how to increase student confidence. I student needs interest and hope in order to progress. Hope leads to effort. Effort plus good teaching and study technique leads to rapid progress.
    The book also talks about teaching methods. It is available at in paperback and kindle formats.

  2. Srinawati says:

    A great article. The hardest thing in life is to listen.

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