Over-inform your students. The more students know about how they’re doing in class and what’s coming up, the more comfortable and confident they’ll feel about the class. Try and make sure students are getting timely updates on their grades and that they know which objectives or assignments are contributing to the grade they have. Also, over-communicate upcoming dates for big tests, deadlines, or review opportunities so they don’t ever feel caught off guard in your classroom.
Follow through on promises. I feel dramatic using the word ‘promises,’ but when we tell our students we’re going to do something, it’s basically a promise. When we break those promises, no matter how small, it erodes trust. So before you say you’ll have their essays back in two days, or that you’ll do a certain thing in class tomorrow, or that you can help students after school every day, make sure you can really hold to it. I was guilty of this kind of thing and had to remember to always write down these spur-of-the-moment statements so I wouldn’t forget. Or better yet, don’t commit to things in the moment until you’ve had a chance to think through it.
Be consistent with consequences. If you’ve gone through any sort of teacher training, no matter how slight, you’ve probably already heard this a million times, but it’s worth saying again. No matter your classroom management system, if you don’t implement it consistently and equitably, students won’t trust you because you’re not being fair.
Build relationships. You can have the most amazing teaching methods and be super consistent with consequences and still have students who are wary of you if they don’t feel like you care about them. For those students you always seem to overlook or who stand out in our minds for negative reasons, take some time this week to make a connection with them. For more on this, try these posts: The Relationship Side of Results and Building Relationships with ALL Students.
All of these basically boil down to one thing: be reliable. Our students need to be able to count on us when they walk into our classroom. How will your students be able to count on you this week? Choose one of the strategies above and get started!