Earning the trust of your students can play an important role in determining how well, or how not so well, your class goes, and not just for that one day, but for your entire duration as their teacher. Trust, between you and your students, is as essential as having your lessons planned, your materials ready, and a plethora of backup ideas.
Most of us have an instinct to naturally trust other people. At least until we see a reason to break that trust, so the teacher/student relationship is one that hinders on maintaining that initial trust throughout the course of your time together. If your first lesson is informative, well rounded and educational, your students will have an incredible first impression and a good idea of what to respect from you in the classroom. However, if you go into that first day with nothing planned, and it shows, they will immediately lose faith in your ability.
So how do we, as teachers, gain and maintain that trust? Here are a few tips to help build trust in the classroom.
Spend Time with Every Student: Time is not something a teacher has a lot of, but it is key to try to spend equal time with each student. If you find yourself only talking with a particular student when he or she needs to be disciplined, then you are doing something wrong as the teacher and need to make more time that student. Perhaps if you could focus a little more time with them in the future, you would notice specific problem areas and work to help the student in those areas they normally struggled. That student will appreciate the help and the other students will notice you care enough to help everyone in the class.
Show an Interest in the Students: Class time is obviously for learning, but it doesn’t have to be the curriculum 24/7. Remember, as a foreign teacher living abroad, your students are just as interested in you and your background as you are in theirs. Find out what they like, what they don’t like. What their views are on specific current news events, movies, music, etc. It’s all learning, and you would be amazed at how much more can be taught while just mingling. A little polite conversation can help you immensely on the trust front.
Treat the Students with Respect: Treat your students, as you would expect to be treated. Don’t call them out in front of the class if they make a mistake. Don’t chuckle if they mispronounce a word. Find encouraging ways to help them get better. Never tell a student; “That’s wrong. Say it again.” Instead, try something like, “Great! Now try with a little more _____” and model it beforehand. Always remember, what may not be considered disrespectful in your home country, may, in fact, be considered quite disrespectful in your host country. Always know the local customs.
These are just a few tips to get you started, but there are plenty of ways to really develop a healthy, long-lasting trust with your students, and the sooner you do so, the better a teacher you will be for it. Good luck!