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Communicating with pupils

Building a rapport with pupils is vital writes Lucy Murray

Primary Teacher, Kirkcaldy West Primary School, Fife

As a PGDE student, our longest placement is only five weeks. Now entering the sixth week of term and my longest stint as a teacher so far, I am realising how far we have come as a class.

The one main difference between this year and last is the relationship I have now established with my class.

Through all of my placements, although I was able to develop a rapport with the children, I think we all knew I would be leaving soon and I was only a passing visitor.

Now as a full-time teacher, I am realising the true strengths of developing a strong relationship with the class and the lasting effects this can have.

Bonding

From week one, I made a great attempt to establish bonds while setting a good standard for the year. The key to this, I feel, is listening.

Being able to ask the children how their dog is after an illness, or if they had seen the latest episode of a favourite television show allows them to see you as a person and them as a child out with the confines of the classroom.

A great difference is their need to know about my life and who I am when not with them in our primary 5 world.

Behaviour

I have found that the behaviour of the class and the respect developed is far greater than even the most well behaved class I borrowed over my student year.

They want to behave for you and see you as their leader rather than someone to rebel against, with the obvious exceptions!

Recently, I have been dealing with children going through various issues both in class and in school, and I feel by developing a strong link with them, we have been able to overcome the problems far quicker.

Some things I recommend include:

  • Allow the children a time in the week to tell their stories and experiences outside the classroom.
  • Listen to their stories and news (they will always know when your mind is on other things). If it's not related to the lesson we're doing, I ask them to keep it until after the lesson, when I'll be able to listen properly. This helps avoid distraction techniques.
  • Remember the little details about their lives: news about granny or pets names. It makes them feel special and valued.

Keeping it personal

I hope I can continue to keep a personal touch in the classroom and encourage the children to respect and understand each other as a means of creating a peaceful and calm classroom.