What’s Needed to Build Rapport with Students

What’s Needed to Build Rapport with Students

Building rapport — a sense of connection, friendliness and trust — is important, but it must pay dividends beyond the teacher-student relationship. Students must like or least care for each other says Heather Schwartz, practice specialist at the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning, writing in K-12 Dive.

Establishing rapport is foundational. Schwartz says developing rapport involves the following:

  • Be warm and welcoming
  • Listen to students wholeheartedly
  • Be positive
  • Create a safe and supportive environment where students can share who they are and what they care about, knowing they will be received generously.
  • Ask students about areas that pique their interest and even ascertain areas of expertise they may have. This can help students feel more of a link to their teacher and peers, and that they are part of a learning community.
  • Possess a strong level of self-awareness. “An educator with strong self-awareness will recognize the specific kinds of behaviors that provoke them and how they tend to respond when they’re stressed,” said Schwartz.
  • Posses social awareness to recognize that, just like teachers, students are not at their best when they are stressed or tired. Try to extend compassion.
  • The end goal is not to develop a connection between teachers and their pupils, but to develop a connection between students and their peers.


“It’s important to remember that building rapport with and among students is not about creating a cult of personality,” said Schwartz. “I know I’m doing a good job not when my students like me, but when they like each other, or at least treat one another with care. That is when they become true partners on their learning journey.”


K-12 Dive


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