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Hello, educators. My name is Phyllis Ohr, and for the past 20 years I’ve engaged in teacher consultation and mentoring as a school psychologist throughout the New York City area. I’m very excited to share some of my ideas with you in a series of blog posts. This first post comes at the start of the new school year, a perfect time to develop rapport with your students. Most of my ideas for positive teacher techniques are common sense, but there may be some relationship strategies you haven’t used before.

Why is it important to develop strong rapport with your students? Educational research has shown that when teachers develop positive relationships, they create an environment where students thrive and enjoy school more. According to Sara Rimm-Kaufman, Ph.D., an expert in the field, and as cited by the American Psychological Association, students will develop positive relationships if their teacher 1) shows a personal interest in that student, 2) actively listens to and engages in open communication with the student, and 3) guides the student using positive regard instead of negative judgment.

Now that you’re starting the new school year, you have the opportunity to build positive relationships with your students from day one. You can practice positive teacher relationship techniques using the acronym POSITIVE RELATIONSHIPS:


  • Praise: positive reinforcement is very powerful — especially if you tell your students exactly what you like about their behavior.

  • Openness: be a role model to your students by sharing when you’re proud of your accomplishments — and likewise acknowledging your mistakes.

  • Support: show your support of students’ ability to become independent problem solvers by expressing a positive attitude when they work on their own.

  • Interest: become personally interested in getting to know the children in your classroom; show enthusiasm for their interests.

  • Trustworthiness: be a positive role model by being honest and following through when promises are made.

  • Interact: instead of spending time at your desk, join students as they sit in groups.

  • Validate: acknowledge students’ emotional responses without judging, and demonstrate how you control your own emotional responses as a guide.

  • Enjoy: show your pleasure and enjoyment of your students — smile!



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