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Dr. Joanne Meier

Along with her background as a professor, researcher, writer, and teacher, Joanne Meier is a mom. Join Joanne every week as she shares her experiences raising her own young readers, and guides parents and teachers on the best practices in reading.

The U.S. mail and teacher–student relationships

October 8, 2009


Oh, the wondrous things a postcard with a quick note from a teacher can do! Molly received this post card in the mail from her third-grade teacher. I wish Mrs. M could have seen Molly's face when she realized what the mailman had brought. She rushed in to show me, grinning from ear to ear. This small gesture from Molly's teacher did so much to further Molly's perception of herself in her new classroom.

Postcard from teacher

Cognitive theorists consider learning to be a social event. Recent research suggests that both teachers and students pay the price if they fail to form warm, supportive relationships within the classroom. All kinds of behaviors can be associated with positive "attachments" in the classroom, among them: greater emotional regulation, social competence, and willingness to take on challenges, and with lower levels of ADHD and delinquency, each of which is associated with higher achievement.

Besides postcards, what can teachers do to enhance their relationships with students? According to research from the Center for Advanced Study of Teaching and Learning, teachers can organize nonacademic extracurricular activities for students and teachers to participate together, have students and teacher eat lunch together in small groups a few times a week, have homeroom teachers act as advisers for students, and create an atmosphere of open communication.

What has worked in your classroom? How do you foster positive relationships with your students?

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"There is no frigate like a book, to take us lands away" — Emily Dickinson