It’s About Relationships

There is one thing that too often gets left behind in all the post it notes stuck on the door of educational reform: Teacher – student relationships.    Not enough do we hear the message that what education really is about is what invisibly transpires miraculously when a teacher and student connect, really connect.

All of us have had a teacher who really made a difference with us.  Rita Pierson in this piercing (pun intended) talk really explains this well. Her talk is sterling, a must watch. I’m glad someone else is pounding the pulpit on this important facet/core of teaching – here’s what I’ve written previously. Teaching is an art, the art of relationships. (this article so finely describes this)

I took away a few more messages from her talk beyond that of relationships.

1.  The most important factor affecting student achievement is what a teacher deeply, truly believes a student is capable of.  Here’s the research about this. 

2.  The relationship a teacher has with students is about trust. And trust takes time. Too often it never happens because teachers are pushed to wade through knowledge without regard to it ever really being learned, understood, synthesized, digested by the students. Here’s my view on this. 

3. Lastly, the thought that maybe technology will free up teachers from being disciplinarians and will allow them time to truly become conductors of the human spirit. With technology driving self directed student learning, teachers will have time to think of how to connect with students and form the important relationships with students, the relationships and mentoring that is truly needed.  Technology won’t take over a teachers job, it will allow teachers to do more of the job they were born to do. 

Here’s Rita’s amazing talk. Sit back and enjoy! Hat tip to Larry Ferlazzo for putting me onto this great talk!


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Teacher trainer, technology specialist, educational thinker...creator of EFL Classroom 2.0, a social networking site for thousands of EFL / ESL teachers and students around the world.

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3 Responses

  1. Debris Rutkauskaite says:

    Thank you very much, David, for your response to my comment in the Discussion ‘Do you think a teacher can be good…’ I see your point and do agree with it. But I have also read ‘It’s About Relationships’ on your blog and I sympathise with it. The relationship question has been my greatest pleasure while teaching young adults at university, when both my involvement with language and their interests matched. What is more, their level of knowledge permitted shared understanding. But I have been myself in a learning situation where the teacher’s knowledge of the language was above the heads of the learners and always fear myself lest I should teach one group while communicating above their understanding. I have had an enjoyable relationship, including trust, with my students, but the learner in the first situation was not seeking any academic achievement, while in the second, the learners were regular students, and anything over their heads was unpardonable. I do believe they are capable of learning and doing the tasks, but a realistic assessment of their ability is more important than trust here, to be really successful, isn’t it? Thank you.

  2. ddeubel says:


    Thanks for the comment and you raise a good point. Which is primary, our relationship or that students achieve success and learn? Without being philosophical – I have to say, “why not both?” The relationship should be build upon the fact of learning, this should be the soil. I think a relationship without student “ability” is not teaching – we can do that outside of school.

    I think the best thing we can build our student relationships upon is passion. Showing our own passion for learning and our subject. Passing this onto our students and using this as the core part of our relationship with students.

    It isn’t easy, is it? Not as simple as just “love and care for your students”. …. but like you said, so worth it.

  3. K R Lakshminarayanan says:

    Hi David
    I don’t know if the problem of volume is with the video or with my laptop. I could hear only in patches.

    However, human relationship is something missing in today’s teaching world. Teachers seem to approach teaching in the most mechanical manner or play favourites, the latter being more unhealthy.

    A very sad state of affairs, but there it is.

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