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How to close the teacher-student relationship gap: new report

At Gradient Learning, we know how important teacher relationships are when it comes to students’ overall social and emotional development, academic success, and engagement with the world. Decades of research show that having at least one supportive and caring adult relationship is one of the strongest predictors of resilience in a child’s life. This school year, that is especially important because students have a lot on their minds as the pandemic continues to impact their daily lives. 

That’s why we asked a variety of students if they feel like their relationships with their teachers are helping them to feel seen and understood. We surveyed 1,031 students (ages 13 and up) for a new report and discovered that the creation of one-on-one student-teacher connections are essential for students to feel included, engaged, and motivated in school.

Here are the four key things we learned:

  1. Students “show up” more for class when they have strong relationships with their teachers. Of students surveyed who indicated that they have a strong relationship with a teacher in the classroom, 70% or more said that they pay attention or participate in class more and look forward to and enjoy class.
  2. Students of color are less likely to have strong teacher relationships. We found that in the past year, more students of color felt they did not have a strong relationship with a teacher compared to white students. A total of 33% Asian Pacific Islander, 28% Hispanic, and 31% of mixed race students surveyed expressed this belief, while only 20% of white students did.
  3. Connecting with teachers is tough for students.  Why aren’t students reaching out to their teachers? The top reason provided (35%) is that it’s awkward or uncomfortable for them.
  4. With teachers in the driver’s seat, it’s a win-win for student-teacher connection. The report found that almost half of students (49%) would prefer to connect with a teacher individually, though nearly a third (31%) of students are not having these regular check-ins.

While the pandemic has emphasized the power of connectivity by way of devices like computers and tablets, this report indicates just how important it is to emphasize strong interpersonal connections for the benefit of our students. Also, students say that they seek out a comfortable space to form these one-on-one relationships with their teachers in the classroom. However, we also know that teachers have limited time in their day to devote to forming such critical relationships. 

The great news is that we built Along to help facilitate these relationships, and it’s fast, it’s free, and it’s fun to use. Sign up and get started today

Our full survey report is available to read and download here.

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