Ask a teacher why he or she chose the teaching profession and you will likely hear some variation on the response “I like to work with kids.” Even a quick Google search reveals a long list of results touting “Top 5” or “Top 10” reasons for becoming a teacher, all of which include some focus on the students. As simple as that statement seems, in practice it holds a lot of meaning. Teachers serve as mentors and role models for their students. They educate students, help shape their interests, help them form good work habits, and encourage them to reach their potential. And at the core, all of these activities come down to one thing: relationships.

Relationships are an important part of life and teacher-student relationships can be critical for success. A healthy and positive relationship between the student and teacher can improve both academic and social development [1]. Of course, parent and peer relationships can also play a huge role in student success; but if either of those areas of support are lacking, teacher support can compensate because of the huge role a teacher plays in the everyday life of a student [2]. Many teachers will “go the extra mile” to build trust and relationships with their students and this effort does not go unnoticed. Students who perceive their teacher putting in more effort believe that their teacher really cares about them and their success. This, in turn, can lead to students investing more in the relationship and to higher achievement [3].

Unfortunately, barriers exist that can keep teachers from cultivating those important teacher-student relationships. Class sizes are large and they continue to grow. Some teachers report having anywhere from 30 to 40 students in one classroom, which makes connecting with each and every student a challenge. Most classrooms contain a diverse set of learners, with some students requiring more attention than others. However, teachers will tell you that the biggest barrier is time. There is a lot of content to cover in a single class period, which typically means a teacher is lecturing for the majority of the time they spend with students. The traditional lecture takes away from potential relationship building.

With the Fizz Method of flipping the classroom, teachers can better focus on the reason they started teaching in the first place – the students. The personalized video lectures, created by the teacher, can help strengthen relationships and build trust with students. Students will see that their teacher, a published master found on YouTube, has put in time and effort to create these lectures, which can lead to students investing in the teacher-student relationship as well as higher student achievement. The video lectures create space and time in the classroom that teachers can use to focus on building and strengthening these critical teacher-student relationships. Even with a diverse set of 35 students, a teacher now has time to work on strengthening relationships with each and every student. Additionally, when teachers are involved with students during the class period in the role of a guide (rather than a lecturer), students are more likely to have a positive perception of the teacher; this can strengthen the teacher-student relationship and lead to achievement [4].

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– Dr. Brandy Parker & Dr. Lodge McCammon

[1] Gregory, A., & Weinstein, R. S. (2004). Connection and regulation at home and in school: Predicting growth in achievement for adolescents. Journal of Adolescent Research, 19, 405–427
[1] Hamre, B., & Pianta, R. (2001). Early teacher–child relationships and the trajectory of children’s school outcomes through eighth grade. Child Development, 72, 625–638.
[2] Harter, S. (1996). Teacher and classmate influences on scholastic motivation, self-esteem, and level of voice in adolescents. In J. Juvonen & K. Wentzel (Eds.), Social motivation: Understanding children’s school adjustment. New York: Cambridge University Press
[3] Midgley, C., Feldlaufer, H., & Eccles, J. S. (1989). Student/teacher relations and attitudes toward mathematics before and after the transition to junior high school. Child Development, 60, 981–992.
[4] Skinner, E. A., & Belmont, M. J. (1993). Motivation in the classroom: Reciprocal effects of teacher behavior and student engagement across the school year. Journal of Educational Psychology, 85, 571–581.