How to develop an emotional connection with our students

The first days of school bring along a resumption of relationships within the parent-child-teacher
triangle. Many a time, regardless of what the law provides, classes continue to be crowded. This is one of the first impediments in developing a profound emotional bond between teachers and students. What can you do when you have too many students in your class? How can you divide your attention to multiple activities and how can you provide support (both instructive – for the subject you teach, and emotional – whenever the student needs it)?
The large number of students in class is only an objective factor. There are however other factors, for instance, the mindset of some teachers according to which being ʽtoo closeʼ to a student may disrupt the natural relationship between teachers and students. To put it bluntly, if a teacher opens himself to his students and allows them to share their problems, he will then be perceived as a ʽsoftʼ person and the students will try to ʽhobnobʼ with him.
We don't deny that such a result is possible, but if it turns to be so, it is only the teacher's fault. Developing an emotional connection with students doesn't make a dent in the teacher's authority. On the contrary, he will gain even more credibility from his students. Nonetheless, he must always pay attention to the message he sends to his students: he is not their friend and he never hangs his ʽschool coatʼ in a rack; he continues to be a teacher, but a friendly one, who cares for his students. Such an attitude will definitely be properly perceived and appraised by students. Everything is based on a viewpoint that belongs not only to an educational environment, but to all human beings. A stunning example, that can be found in the specialized literature, will convince you of this.
George Kohlrieser (2007), a researcher with an extensive practical experience in hostage negotiations, cites a story from J. C. Pearce's book, Magical Child. The main character in the story is a grandmother from Kansas. One day, when she is home alone with her nine year old granddaughter, she finds herself in the room with a man armed with a bat. The grandmother doesn't lose her temper and behaves as gently as possible. She offers the man food, dry clothes and a place to sleep. Then she goes to bed with her granddaughter. The next morning, she realizes the man has already disappeared. The police officers who arrive at her doorstep tell the grandmother how the man is actually a psychopathic killer who has murdered a family from a nearby house. What was the behaviour that led to saving the grandmother and her granddaughter? The answer lies within customizing a relationship: developing an emotional connection with the intruder. For that matter, Kohlrieser concludes: people do not kill other people, but things and objects.

Conclusion: It is difficult to react negatively to a known person. The more we know someone, the harder it gets to show an inappropriate behaviour on his part. A fair teacher will open himself to his students just as much as he considers necessary for teaching his subject successfully. Then again, a successfull teacher will not be afraid of developing an emotional connection with his students. 

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