Whether it is the start of the school year or you have a new student on your caseload, it is essential that you take the time to build rapport with your older speech and language students.
Whether we like it or not, some of our older speech students may not be too excited about coming to speech. They might be embarrassed. They might be sick of it. They might be upset they are missing precious class time. Learning is hard and they have to learn more? They might have been receiving speech for years and are just done with it. They might not fully understand why they are even there. We have a lot going against us when it comes to working with older speech students. That is why it is so incredibly important that you build that rapport and trust with your students. It will help set the culture and environment in your speech room the rest of the year.
What are some reasons why rapport is so important?
- It will build their trust and respect
- It will make them feel comfortable
- They will be more willing to come to speech
- They will be more willing to take risks with challenging concepts/goals
- They will be motivated to work
- It helps them understand you are there for them and that you care about them
- It allows them to recognize that you are there to help
- It shows them that you are not the enemy
- It helps them realize that learning can be fun
So how can we build rapport in our speech room without being too soft or pushy?
- Learn their interests: you can use this later on when planning fun and motivating sessions for them
- Show them their goals and explain why they are coming to speech. Let them truly understand and show them how they can prove to you that they no longer need it. Let them make goals for themselves for the year
- Show them how what you will work on with them will help them in their classes. Make it obvious. Make it clear.
- Tell them about you. Don’t be afraid to share about yourself too if you want them to share. I tell them my favorite foods and movies.
- Ask them about their weekends! Tell them about yours! Don’t be in such a rush to get to the lesson. Feel free to make small talk as the year goes on. Be the person they feel comfortable with telling about bad days or the not so good things.
- It helps make you more approachable! A smile goes a long way!
- Be patient. Be flexible. Show them that you can wait for them to respond to get things right. You aren’t in a rush. You are there to help them get there anyway they need.
- Show them your weaknesses. I always show my students how bad I am at drawing and at sports. They get a kick out of it. It shows them that everyone has weaknesses and they aren’t alone. I let them teach me a few things. They love to show me how to kick a soccer ball!
- When they share their interests with you, show them that you want to learn about it. Research their favorite athlete. Come in with stats. Impress them. Show that you listened and care.
- Give them time to warm up. Not all of your students will be willing and ready to share and chat right away. Let them take the time they need. They will come around if you keep smiling, opening up to them, and keep asking questions. Don’t give up.
These are just several of the MANY ways you can build rapport with your older speech students. By doing these tips and tricks, I have found that many students open up to me more than their classroom teachers. I am the first to be told they might be moving. I am the one that knows that they had a terrible weekend. I am the one that listens and they feel comfortable talking to if they have a problem. I am the one that has the least amount of behavioral issues…even with “those kids.” They don’t mind working for me. They come to me and complain about how their teacher just yells at them all the time and doesn’t believe in them. Show them that you do believe in them, care, and listen and you will have a positive and great school year!
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