The importance of building relationships with students has been well documented in research. A strong teacher student relationship can mean the difference between an engaged learner and a disengaged learner. There are several ways to build relationships with students, but the easiest is to actually get to know them and take an interest in their lives.
If you've been wondering how to build relationships with your students, here's an easy way to get started.
Create a morning routine that includes a morning meeting. This routine offers three significant benefits:
- It helps you learn more about your students.
- It helps your class connect with one another & builds community.
- It is a great way to integrate speaking & listening standards.
It can be helpful to have some days be less structured, but you should always have conversation starters planned to help students get talking if they're struggling to get going.
50 Discussion Questions to Build Relationships with Students & Foster Classroom Community
Since you definitely have enough to do, I've created a list of 20 questions you can use when you don't have time to come up with your own. They were selected to be engaging, foster classroom community, and help you build positive relationships with your students.
I've broken the questions into categories to make it easier to find.
“Would you rather…” Questions
- Would you rather go camping or stay in a hotel
- Would you rather visit the mountains or the ocean
- Would you rather go to the zoo or an aquarium?
- Would you rather get up early or sleep late?
- Would you rather play an individual sport or a team sport?
- Would you rather eat at home or eat at a restaurant?
- Would you rather have indoor recess or outdoor recess?
- Would you rather have art or PE?
- Would you rather stay up late or go to bed early?
- Would you rather go to a movie or a play?
- Would you rather play video games or play outside?
- Would you rather text your friends or get together?
- Would you rather ride a bike or a scooter?
People of Interest Questions
- If you could meet any celebrity, who would you like to meet?
- If you could meet anyone from history, who would you like to meet?
- If you could meet any character from a book, who would you meet?
- If you could meet any athlete you admire, who would meet?
- If you could meet any musician or group, who would you meet?
- If you could meet a cartoon character in real life, who would you choose to meet?
- If you could meet any Disney character, who would you meet?
- If you could meet any superhero in real life, who would you pick?
Travel & Adventure Questions
- If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?
- If you could travel anywhere in our state, where would you visit?
- If you could travel anywhere in our solar system, where would you go?
- If you could go anywhere in (YOUR TOWN or A NEARBY CITY) for the day, where would you go?
- If you could go back to any point in history, where would you go?
- If you could move anywhere in the world/country/state, where would you move?
“Just one question” Questions
- If you could ask the president one question, what would you ask?
- If you could meet (CHARACTER FROM BOOK YOU'VE READ), what is one question you would ask him/her?
- If you could ask (HISTORICAL FIGURE) one question, what would it be?
- If you could ask (FAMOUS INVENTOR) one question, what would you ask?
- If you could ask your principal just one question, what would you ask?
- If you could ask (INSERT TEACHER NAME) one question, what would it be?
- If you could ask (CELEBRITY) just one question, what would it be?
- If you could ask your family pet one question, what would it be?
Students love to talk about their favorites. This is a great way to help students find commonalities amongst themselves, which goes a long way to fostering classroom community.
Try these questions on days when students seem a little unfocused or after issues arise between peers. They are great for reconnecting and reminding students of the positives.
- What is your favorite season and why?
- What is you favorite activity to do with your family?
- What is your favorite activity to do with your friends?
- What is your favorite thing to do at recess?
- What is your favorite board or card game?
- What is your favorite video game?
- What is your favorite website to visit?
- What is your favorite movie?
- What is your favorite book and why?
- What is your favorite genre of book to read?
- What is your favorite show on TV?
- What is your favorite meal of the day?
- What is your favorite snack?
- What is your favorite color?
- What is your favorite ice cream flavor?
- What is your favorite vegetable? fruit?
- What is your favorite subject in school?
- What is your favorite specials class?
- What is your favorite hobby?
- What is your favorite thing to learn about in (SUBJECT)?
- What is your most prized possession?
Understanding your students goals and dreams for the future is a great way to build rapport and foster your student teacher relationship.
Knowing students goals and aspirations can help you connect them with resources and support them as they work toward that path.
- What career are you interested in?
- What do you think you'll be doing in 20 years?
- Where do you want to go to college?
- What are you most excited about doing when you are a teenager/college student/adult?
- Where do you want to live when you grow up?
- What goals do you have for yourself this year?
- What are five things you want to do before you turn (AGE)?
Students love to share their special memories. These questions tend to take a little longer to answer so you may want to use them for an entire week and have a few students respond each day.
This type of question can be a really good conversation point between you and your students. Being able to connect to students and their background experiences is a big part of building a positive relationship.
- Share a special memory you have from school.
- Share a special memory you shared with your family.
- Share a special memory you shared with a friend.
- Describe the most amazing thing you've ever seen in real life.
- Describe the most beautiful place you've ever been.
- Share about a time someone was extra kind to you.
Community Building & Social Skills Questions
These questions are designed to get your students talking about character traits and social scenarios. This can help you better understand the dynamic between students and can help support you in building positive relationships with your students.
- Why do you think it is important to have rules in school?
- What is one rule we have in school that you think is unfair?
- What is the most important rule we have here at school?
- Why is it important to show respect to others?
- Do peers deserve the same respect as elders?
- How can you show respect to others?
- What does kindness look like?
- How do you prefer others to show you kindness – hugs, notes, time together, etc?
- If you could change anything about our school, what would you change?
Add to the list!
Have other questions you love to use to help build relationships with your students and foster classroom community?
Share them in the comments!
Get more tips for building relationships with your students
If you want more easy-to-implement tips for fostering teacher student relationships, check out this article on ways to connect with your class.