Building Stronger Teacher-Student Relations

PISA data shows that positive teacher-student relations at a school are correlated with stronger student performance. Students learn better when classrooms are well disciplined and teacher-student relations are amiable and supportive.

In the U.S., students are generally satisfied with their relationships with teachers, with 90% of students agreeing that they get along well with most of their teachers. (The average across all PISA-participating economies is 85%.) But some schools stand out for their commitment and success in creating a positive learning environment for students. The most successful schools create a learning environment where students believe that teachers genuinely care about them as people. They do this by providing personalized guidance to students, actively fostering positive interactions between teachers and students through informal events, and giving students a voice in school decisions.

Best Practices in Improving Teacher-Student Relations:

1. Create opportunities for students to receive personalized guidance and extra help. High performing schools ensure students receive personalized attention and advice. For example, one top school assigns a dedicated advisor to each student. The advisor monitors student progress and works with the student’s teachers to ensure the student gets the help they need. Other schools create an extra period in the day where students can receive structured help and individual guidance from teachers.

2. Create opportunities for students and teachers to interact in an informal setting. Some leading schools organize events to allow students and teachers to interact outside of the classroom. For example, one school organizes annual community-building events such as field days and trips to see the local sports team, as a way of fostering positive interactions between teachers and students.

3. Give students a voice in school decisions. High performing schools give students a voice, by conducting surveys on the school environment, taking into account student preferences when assigning teachers, and asking students how teachers can best support their learning when they struggle.