Building rapport in your teenage classroom

Laura Sigsworth

Rapport, defined by the Cambridge Dictionary as “a good understanding of someone and an ability to communicate well with them” can be seen as the ‘X-factor’ of teaching. It can make the difference between a good teacher and an outstanding teacher, yet it is not taught on teacher training courses, or widely covered in teacher development materials.

The APS views rapport as follows:

  • The extent to which students accept or “buy into” the goals the teacher has spelled out to the class
  • The student’s ability to work towards those goals
  • The teacher’s ability to care genuinely for the students and to nurture their learning
  • The students and teacher “connecting” emotionally and students’ motivation to participate actively in their education.


Therefore, rapport is both a process and an outcome. Teachers must take steps to nurture their students’ learning and connect emotionally with them, and this enables students to participate actively in class and work towards their goals.

Building rapport can make a huge difference to our classes, making them a safe and enjoyable environment for us and our learners. After all, when we ask students to communicate in English we are asking them to risk making a mistake; the last thing they may want to do in front of their peers!  Without establishing an environment of trust, they are unlikely to want to take that risk, or ask for help when they need it.

So how can we build rapport with our students? Here are a few simple techniques to try out:

  • Learn and use your students’ names
  • Make eye contact with your students
  • Tell students a bit about yourself – don’t underestimate their curiosity!
  • Learn something about your students (family, hobbies, interests) and ask them about it
  • Show your passion for your subject and teaching materials
  • Don’t be afraid to use humour
  • Be clear and consistent about class rules


To discover the difference strong compassionate relationships can make and how different emotional states can affect relationship-building, register for our webinar with Dr. Kate Brierton on Wednesday 9th January 2019 at 3pm (GMT).

Read Dr. Kate Brierton’s last blog and watch her webinar recording on practicing compassion in your school.

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