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Successful Classes: How good is your rapport with your students?
By: Fabiano Almeida
Oftentimes some fellow teachers ask me for suggestions of activities or even materials to help them engage their students and consequently deliver more effective lessons. I’m very glad to help them whenever I can. But well-devised activities and suitable materials are just some of a number of aspects of a successful lesson. I’m not going over all of them here, but I’ve decided to talk a little bit about the primary one: rapport!
Rapport is defined as: ‘a good understanding of someone and an ability to communicate well with them’. Well, teachers are arguably born communicators. They stand in front of a, sometimes, packed classroom, and build a bridge between their students and the subject matter through words and explanations. But what about ‘a good understanding of someone (in that case), their students? And why is it so important?
When a teacher has a good understanding of their students, they will strive to relate well to the learners and create a positive atmosphere in the classroom, where students will feel comfortable to take risks and face challenges, because they know they are in a supportive environment. As English teachers we all know how hard it is sometimes to have our students take risks and try to use the language they are learning. Therefore, rapport is a skill we definitely need to develop, since a significant part of a lesson’s success is down to how well teachers and students relate.
Although we can learn some techniques to help us communicate better, real rapport cannot be mimicked. It is our day-to-day relationship with others; a true wish to connect to people. It is not a role play that we start when we cross the threshold of the classroom. It’s something deeper, rooted at the level of our genuine intentions. In order to improve it we need to look closely at our students, acknowledge their needs, how we feel about them, and what we want for them. It’s more about our intentions and attitudes than the methodology or materials we use. This is the key for a bright and enjoyable environment where successful lessons will take place.