The relationship between teachers and students

Louis Barrett

Alison Fellman, Entertainment Editor

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   The relationship between a student and their teacher is surely one of the most impactful components in a student’s academic success. Nevertheless, the connection shared between a student and a teacher is an ongoing effort, whether it’s put in by both parties or it’s a one-sided struggle. A few of our own teachers and students here shared their views on how they interact with each other and cultivate a positive classroom environment.

  Teachers getting to know their students is the basis for having open communication and helping students learn. Geometry teacher Katrina Kutschkau expressed the impact of getting to know her students. “I think the most important thing is to get to know your students so you can understand different ways that you might be able to connect them or relate the material to them. [It can help] if you know their hobbies or interests. If they feel a sense of belonging in your classroom, I think that still helps them.”

  Senior Shorena Vashadze, an exchange student from Georgia, said that what makes a teacher great in her opinion is “when a teacher is willing to spend some time talking to you about stuff that is not connected to subjects [we’re learning about], stuff we find interesting and things that matter to us.”

  Teachers and students having closer relationships not only improves communication, it also contributes to a student’s success in the classroom. When teachers know how a student thinks and comprehends material, it can open up new opportunities for the student to achieve. Brooke Smitha, a science teacher, shared what approaches she uses to teach to a variety of different-minded students. “I try to incorporate reading into my lessons. I try to incorporate hands-on into my lessons. Virtually-some people learn well via the computer, some people learn well by doing and hearing and repeating. I try to incorporate all those in my lessons so that at least one strategy will work for every student.”

  Sophomore Ryan Sontag had a suggestion that goes beyond different teaching methods. “Don’t do a bunch of assignments that can only be done a certain way,” he said. “There are many ways you can have an assignment [that can be made into] a project or writing piece. Projects that have different options can help students find their strengths, use them well, and get a better grade.”

  Positive teacher-student relationships that are built on support and closeness have shown to contribute to students’ social skills, academic performance, and academic resiliency, according to the American Psychological Association. Academic resiliency goes hand-in-hand with perseverance, which Kutschkau says is the most important thing in a student. “To learn you have to take the risk of asking questions and risk making mistakes or facing some failures and just continuing on. I try to emphasize when I teach geometry that it’s geomeTRY. You’ve got to try every day.”

  When asked what she wishes her students would know, Smitha said, “I want them to all know…that they are amazing people who can do anything they set their minds to, and they all have something to give to society and our planet. And to me, they give so much to me. I’ve learned so many things from my students, and I hope they’ve learned a few things back.”


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