In a very real sense, the interactions between teachers and students are fundamental to all that occurs within the classroom setting, and because these relationships define how learning exists as a process. Students rely on materials to gain information but, and certainly in younger grades, knowledge has no context if the student lacks the support and guidance provided by the teacher. These interactions may take any number of forms, from the more rigid to the personally invested, and in terms of both teacher and student behaviors. Variations, nonetheless, in no way lessen the critical importance of the interactions, and if only because the purpose of learning in the environments relies on the very human factors of individual beings. Consequently, teacher-student interaction is vital in promoting students’ learning, social skills, senses of developing identities, and all other facets of maturing in general.
If anything defines the classroom experience, it is how the relationship between the teacher and the student functions, which in turn goes to exponential processes. The teacher who makes efforts to discover how the students perceive a lesson, for example, is enabled by the awareness to teach in ways addressing those perceptions. Similarly, when students understand that the teacher is interested in their own ideas and viewpoints, they are more encouraged to invest emotionally and intellectually in the process of learning.
It is not enough that teachers understand the students, their needs, and their capabilities; the teacher must also be aware of the dynamics within what is essentially a professional and personal relationship, with both formal and informal rhythms and structures (Riley, 2010, p. 41). Certainly, the teacher is obligated to instruct in specific subjects and provide instruction meeting the parameters of the school. Within this arena, however, nothing better promotes the goals of learning and personal development than a mutual respect between student and teacher, and because this creates a healthy foundation on which to achieve those goals.
It is also arguable that teachers sometimes make actual choices regarding how interaction with students either promotes or sets aside classroom management concerns. More exactly, a teacher may decide that formalized instruction and minimal, individual interaction is the best means of managing a collective of students, while another may discount levels of teacher control in favor of more personalized relationships with each student (Emmer, Sabornie, 2014, p. 368). Circumstance come into play here, certainly, as organization is necessary for education and as the teacher must retain control. Such management, however, may be in place without formal structure, and because students who perceive authentic support and interest from the teacher will be more inclined to respect the teacher’s authority. With this sort of relationship existing, there follows the increased engagement of students, who then in fact assist the teacher in facilitating their own learning. Ultimately, this is a rational approach based on genuine encouragement of students on individual levels as working to enhance the entire educational experience.
Strategies for enhancing student achievement have been proposed and debated for centuries, and varying standards only add to the complexity of the issue. There may in fact be no single and correct way of assuring optimal learning. Nonetheless, one reality seems evident, in that how the teacher and students actually relate to one another must have immense influence on the processes. Moreover, there is no valid reason to believe that increased interaction translates to decreased classroom management, and because all parties within the context are more likely to promote its success when the teacher-student relationships are meaningful. In the final analysis, teacher-student interaction is a crucial factor in promoting students’ learning, socialization, senses of developing identities, and all other facets of individual development itself..
- Emmer, E., & Sabornie, E. J. (2014). Handbook of Classroom Management, 2nd Ed. New York, NY: Routledge.
- Riley, P. (2010). Attachment Theory and the Teacher-Student Relationship: A Practical Guide for Teachers, Teacher Educators and School Leaders. New York, NY: Routledge.