Illustration by Andrew Lam

Recognizing the importance of teacher-student relationships

Investing effort into understanding students must be a top priority for teachers.

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Now that students and teachers are settled into the distance learning environment, the traditional classroom setting has been shelved. Unfortunately, the lack of a physical classroom setting to engage students has also intensified teachers’ lack of empathy for them. Thus, teachers must put more effort into building relationships with students to ease the stress of distance learning.

When a teacher makes an effort to understand a student’s personality and their general situation, this gesture becomes a precedent for other students to reciprocate towards their teachers and fellow peers. These actions indirectly teach students empathy, allowing them to also get to know their peers. These actions build trust among students and teachers, making students more open to confiding in teachers about their mental health. 

Teachers have complained about the lack of student participation, yet they do not understand the root of the problem. An empathetic teacher is much more appealing than a callous one who moves through the lesson without concern for how students are adapting. Through connecting with students, teachers encourage them to learn and participate in class because they feel more comfortable engaging. Students will be more likely to voice their concerns and questions when it comes to the class, easing the burden teachers have in adjusting lesson plans to distance learning. 

Although distance learning certainly poses an obstacle in understanding students with the lack of physical face-to-face interaction, there are doors opened when others are closed. In a virtual environment, there are many new opportunities to expand how teachers can get to know their students better through various Internet resources. These resources come in various forms such as accounts of how teachers engaged students. 

Only by making an effort to understand students will teachers ensure participation and student motivation in their classes. Setting aside some class time to familiarize themselves with students in breakout rooms or assigning activities that allow students to express themselves will undoubtedly yield positive results for both sides.

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