One of the more powerful recent trends in pedagogical thought is that of the teacher-student relationship. When John Hattie, professor at the Melbourne Education Research Institute carried out his research into what really makes a positive impact on learning, he found that teachers often underestimated the value of good teacher-student relationships. However, the impact of teachers investing the time and effort to get to know their class has proven to be one of the most effective tools that we have at our disposal.
Within our primary school at SIS Zürich, we have long recognised the efficacy of building personal relationships, and the role that they play in working towards our key educational concept of a value-centred approach to learning. Indeed, in our recent school evaluation we were complimented on the warm, positive, and encouraging atmosphere.
More than just a nice place to be
Educational experts and psychologists alike note the importance of teachers building positive relationships and building trust with their students. In a humanistic style, John Hattie writes that we need to make mistakes to learn, and that learners need to feel the trust of the teacher before they are comfortable enough to make the errors that will provide fertile ground for breakthroughs.
Moreover, it is important to put a considerable focus on the necessity for students gaining validation through feeling that they have simply been seen, that they have been recognised. Such validation has been shown to cause the release of dopamine in the student’s brain, which stimulates motivation and can help counter feelings of stress.
The primary team are incredibly proud of the environment that we have created, and we know that it was worth the longterm investment of time and energy. Each and every student is valued, but more than that, we know our students and we provide them with the assurance that they need to make mistakes, to grow and to prosper.
Matthew Hall, Vice Principal and Head of Primary