Author Marcia Tate said it best: "If a student likes you, there's nothing they won't do for you. If a student dislikes you, there's nothing they won't do to you."
I have found that most people use the words "rules," "procedures," and "disciplinary actions" to describe an effective classroom manager. Sure, implementing highly structured routines will positively impact your classroom management, but the most important strategies are those that help you build relationships with students.
Increasing the amount of non-contingent interactions with students is one powerful strategy used to build positive relationships with a whole class and/or one student in particular. I call them NCIs for short. Non-contingent interactions are interactions that are not initiated because the student did (or didn’t do) any specific thing. I like to remember it this way: a non-contingent interaction says to the student, “I want to interact with you simply because you’re a human being, not just a human doing.”
More often than not, a teacher’s interactions with students are contingent. It’s our traditional “teacher talk.”
True relationship building occurs when we include non-contingent interactions into our communication patterns.
Benefits of NCIs include:
In your own life, with how many people do you have regular non-contingent interactions? Maybe a handful? Non-contingent conversations feel personal. When the busy week has slipped into a routine of chores, homework, baseball practice, and bedtime, we’re more sensitive to the relationship needs of these individuals. We can feel when our interactions with these individuals have become too contingent. It’s time for a day of quality conversation (and fun!) to strengthen the relationships again.
The same concept holds true in the classroom. Consider increasing the amount of non-contingent interactions with students, especially during periods of increased rigor and accountability testing, to strengthen and maintain a positive classroom culture.
Take a look at the examples below:
True, it’s not always easy. We may not always want to build a non-contingent relationship with a student (especially a “tough kid”), but this is the student who needs you the most!