How does a college instructor develop and maintain rapport with students? This has challenged even the most experienced instructors.
The author of Successful Beginnings, Angela Provitera McGlynn, has provided some wonderful advice.
Note: I highly recommend McGlynn’s book !
Engaging Your Students From the First Day
This is the subtitle of McGlynn’s book; and, in my opinion, the most critical skill required of college teachers. Someone once asked me what I look for when I conduct a classroom observation. Without hesitation my answer was, “Engagement, student engagement.”
McGlynn has given her readers many effective techniques for developing and nurturing a positive relationship with students. The advice in Chapter 2, A Positive Start: First-Day Classroom Activities and Icebreakers, will help you set the stage for the entire semester. I could not agree more strongly with McGlynn when she wrote, “The first class meeting of the semester is the most important one of the term! It sets the tone for the entire course – for better or worse,” (pg. 35).
In my article, Do Boy Scouts Make the Best Instructors?, I provided strategies for preparing for your first class. You know that the Boy Scout motto, right? Be Prepared. In my article, An Instructor’s Guide to the First Day of Class, I borrowed from Barbara Gross Davis’s book, Tools for Teaching. I recommend Davis’s book, although parts are geared more toward university professors.
What I really like about McGlynn’s book is the emphasis on developing relationships with students that will create, as she puts it, a “Welcoming Classroom Environment.” McGlynn explains that simple little techniques like greeting you class as a whole and greeting students individually will help you develop rapport.
I cannot begin to do justice to the entire book in this article. Of course, if I did that would be plagiarism. However, let me just whet your appetite for this book by saying this. The chapters on Promoting Student Participation and Motivation and Dealing with Civility in the College Classroom cover make-or-break teaching and classroom management techniques. The college instructors whom I have seen struggle quite often lacked in these areas.
© 2011 Paul A. Hummel, Ed.D.
Revised September 16, 2011