If you want to examine the dynamic of a relationship, study communication patterns and interactions. Watching just one exchange between two individuals can provide much insight into the health of that relationship. As a husband and parent, I consider this when I have a conversation with my wife or kiddos. This is also something I keep in the forefront of my brain as I kick off another school year, working to develop a healthy rapport with our students and their families.

Taken a step further, individual interactions are exponentially more powerful than “en masse” ones. So, the best way for teachers to cultivate deep connections with students is to find a way carve out one-on-one time with them. With large class sizes, this can be difficult. However, I am convinced healthy student-teacher relationships are rooted in positive individual exchanges.

Take time during these first few weeks of school to make individual connections with your students. Greetings at the door, lunch bunch, responsive journaling – there are many ways to accomplish this task. Just keep in mind, these initial exchanges will lay a strong foundation on which healthy relationships will be strengthened throughout the remainder of the school year. Trust me, the time is more than worth the investment.