15 Ways for Schools to Build Strong Relationships

Strong relationships matter. From both a practical and personal perspective, we all know this to be true, but it can be challenging to put it into practice on a regular basis. Relationships take work and time. 

When you emphasize strong relationships in your school and lead by example, the benefits can be enormous. This doesn’t just mean good teacher and student relationships either. It’s important to encourage good relationships on multiple levels, including teacher/admin, family/teacher, and student/teacher. If building a powerful culture and cultivating relationships are goals for you and your school, then you’ll be able to put many of these into practice right away. 

Build Strong Relationships Between Teacher and Student.

Openly discuss relationships. 

One of the best ways to establish good relationships is to be willing to talk about what that means. You can use the Building Strong Relationships lesson plan and activity available for free right here to help you get started. Created to be complete in 15 minutes or less, it’s a perfect way to talk about relationships with your students. Get it here.

Let students know you hear them. 

When students know that you’re actually listening and hearing them, it makes a huge difference in your overall relationship. It’s easy for some students to be heard while others slip through the cracks, so make it a point to tell all students you want to hear them and how they can reach you. 

Don’t lump all students together as one. 

It’s easy to fall in the trap of saying “no one is listening” or “no one did their work,” but these blanket statements are often frustrating to students. Don’t use group punishments or generalizations with your students if you can help it. 

Talk about students’ interests. 

Teachers who take an interest in their students outside of day-to-day classroom work will always develop better relationships because they’re showing they care. Try to find ways to show interest in what your students do, especially if it’s someone you’ve been trying to connect with in a more meaningful way. 

Give students a night off. 

One of the easiest ways you can gain appreciation from students, especially older ones, is to give them a break from time to time. If they had a good day in class or you worked a lot on any given day, acknowledge their hard work, and then give them a night off! 

Build Strong Teacher and Administrator Relationships 

Establish office hours. 

Office hours don’t have to be a thing of the past. Encourage admins to create and post office hours so teachers know when they can stop in for support. If your team organizes and communicates this well, it can be a lot more efficient for everyone. 

Create a virtual suggestion box. 

Use a Google form or another simple, online tool to create a virtual suggestion box. Make it optional for people to leave their name so they are free to make suggestions at any given time. Be sure to check the suggestion box regularly, and bring up any issues during group meetings. This will encourage more people to use it. 

Find ways to show appreciation. 

It’s important for staff to feel recognized on a regular basis, but only you know what works best. For some groups, that’ll be Friday coffee. For others, it’ll be verbal praise or recognition. If you want to show support but are short on time or resources, ask for support from parents. 

Limit your asks. 

Teachers have so much going on, and they’re juggling a lot of demands—not just from a district level but from families, too. Everyone knows this, but it’s easy to forget. Be conscious of home much you’re asking of your staff, and don’t overdo it. 

Have your teachers’ backs. 

One of the best ways to build a strong relationship with someone is to give them your respect and support. If they have a challenge in the classroom or even a complaint from a parent, find a way to give them support. Even if you have to recommend changes or adjustments, you can still show them support. 

Build Strong Family and Teacher Relationships 

Share students’ wins regularly. 

This might be the single biggest way teachers can establish good relationships with parents and guardians. Families love hearing about their student’s wins and successes. It can be hard to take the time to call, email, or write about them, but it can go a long way. You could even have students write down their own wins on little slips of paper to capture them in the moment. 

Talk about what’s going on in your classroom. 

Parents and families enjoy hearing about the day-to-day activities in the classroom, even beyond what you’re learning or studying about. Don’t forget to share things like classroom goals, progress, and general life skills happening at school. 

Building strong relationships means being a good listener. 

When you’re able to truly listen and hear a parent or family member, it often makes a big difference in the overall relationship. Remember they are trying to be advocates for their child, and so they really want to know that you are listening. This doesn’t mean you can’t offer opinions or feedback, but it’s important to show them they are heard. 

Set goals in collaboration with parents. 

What goals do parents see as priorities for their kids? Is there a way to incorporate those into classroom goals as well? By collaborating with parents, you have the opportunity to work with them toward shared interests. Then hopefully, this will lead to reinforcement at home.  

Try video. 

Video can be an easy and powerful way to connect with families. If you’re comfortable with it, try doing a video newsletter instead of a  written one—families will love seeing you and the classroom. You could also try a live Q&A, setting a time each month or quarter where families can tune in to ask questions. Often, having a visual can be a good way to connect.